Tohoku University and the University of Tokyo researchers discovered electrical wave patterns in the brain associated with social behavior in mice. They also discovered that mice with signs of stress, depression, or autism did not have these brain waves.

When we suffer from psychiatric diseases, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and amygdala regions of the brain undergo pathological changes. However, the precise neuronal processes underlying this remain unknown.

Tohoku University and the University of Tokyo researchers discovered electrical wave patterns in the brain associated with social behavior in mice. They also discovered that mice with signs of stress, depression, or autism did not have these brain waves.

When we suffer from psychiatric diseases, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and amygdala regions of the brain undergo pathological changes. However, the precise neuronal processes underlying this remain unknown.

Social Behavior
Animals interact socially with one another, causing specific electrical oscillations in the brain./Takuya Sasaki et al.


The brain waves were not present when the same tests were performed on mice with poor social skills or symptoms of depression and autism. Notably, artificially replicating social behavior related brain waves in these pathological mouse models via an optical and genetic manipulation technique restored their ability to interact socially.


“This discovery provides a unified understanding of brain activity that underpins social behavior and its deficits in disease,” Sasaki says.

The prefrontal cortex and amygdala are two brain regions that are specific to social behavior. During social interaction, theta (4-7Hz) and gamma (30-60Hz) oscillations decrease and increase, respectively./Takuya Sasaki et al.


In the future, Sasaki hopes to identify the fundamental mechanisms of neuronal dynamics in these brain waves and assess the role of other brain regions in social behavior. In addition, he is looking into whether the same brain mechanisms exist in humans for clinical applications.

Reference :  DOI: 10.7554/eLife.78428

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