Changes in Social Motivation Following Oxytocin Receptor Inhibition

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Asim, Rija
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
The purpose of our study was to adapt a social behavior arena for mice and to test the correlation between oxytocin receptor activation/inhibition and social motivation since no current measurement for social motivation exists. The long-term impact of this research was to identify a standardized way of measuring social motivation so that social disorders like autism can be better characterized. Our research was conducted with 90 mice across both sexes. The levels of social motivation were pharmacologically manipulated with oxytocin, atosiban, or saline. We were able to successfully validate a social reward chamber. A sex by drug interaction indicated a differential effect exists between atosiban and oxytocin depending on sex. We found that atosiban treated males and oxytocin treated females were more socially motivated than other groups. The understanding of these factors will aid us in better developing treatment targets and pharmacological improvements for disorders with social symptoms like autism.