The neuroscience of seeking company

Credit: Martha Sexton/public domain Social animals are strongly motived to seek out the company of others, especially after periods of isolation, because their brains are wired to find it rewarding. A study in mice published February 11 in Cell now reveals a neural circuit that mediates social seeking behavior driven instead by a loneliness-like state. By shedding light on the neuroscience of isolation, the findings could help our understanding of social anxiety and autism spectrum disorders. “Our study is new in that a neural substrate for a loneliness-like state has never been identified before,” says senior study author Kay Tye of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “There have been a number of studies examining social reward, but none that have looked at the negative motivational drive to seek social contact.…

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