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Past social experience affects the circuitry responsible for producing and interpreting current behaviors. The social behavior network (SBN) is a candidate neural ensemble to investigate the consequences of early-life social isolation. The SBN interprets and produces social behaviors, such as vocalizations, through coordinated patterns of activity (functional connectivity) between its multiple nuclei. However, the SBN is relatively unexplored with respect to murine vocal processing. The serotonergic system is sensitive to past experience and innervates many nodes of the SBN; therefore, we tested whether serotonin signaling interacts with social experience to affect patterns of immediate early gene (IEG; cFos) induction in the male SBN following playback of social vocalizations. Male mice were separated into either social housing of three mice per cage or into isolated housing at 18-24 d postnatal. After 28-30 d in housing treatment, mice were parsed into one of three drug treatment groups: control, fenfluramine (FEN; increases available serotonin), or pCPA (depletes available serotonin) and exposed to a 60-min playback of female broadband vocalizations (BBVs). FEN generally increased the number of cFos-immunoreactive (-ir) neurons within the SBN, but effects were more pronounced in socially isolated mice. Despite a generalized increase in cFos immunoreactivity, isolated mice had reduced functional connectivity, clustering, and modularity compared with socially reared mice. These results are analogous to observations of functional dysconnectivity in persons with psychopathologies and suggests that early-life social isolation modulates serotonergic regulation of social networks. Copyright © 2021 Petersen et al.


Christopher L Petersen, Sarah E D Davis, Bhumi Patel, Laura M Hurley. Social Experience Interacts with Serotonin to Affect Functional Connectivity in the Social Behavior Network following Playback of Social Vocalizations in Mice. eNeuro. 2021 Mar-Apr;8(2)

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PMID: 33658309

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