Department of Psychiatry
Emory University School of Medicine
The Young lab uses multidisciplinary approaches to understand the genetic, cellular and neurobiological mechanisms regulating complex social behavior, including social cognition and social bonding. Dr. Young’s research focuses heavily on the roles of the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin in regulating the neural processing of social signals and social attachment. Dr. Young uses a comparative neuroethological approach to investigate the nature of social bonding in highly affiliative and socially monogamous prairie voles. His work incorporates a comprehensive genetic approach that includes genetic manipulation of both mice and prairie voles as well as genomics. This work has led to the development of neural model of social bonding which shares many features with addiction. Dr. Young collaborates with several other members of the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience to extend his finding in rodent models to non-human primates, including rhesus macaques and chimpanzees. Dr. Young also has a major translational focus that seeks to use knowledge of the fundamental mechanisms regulating social cognition to develop novel treatment strategies for psychiatric disorders with social impairments. Dr. Young has recently developed behavioral paradigms that are useful for screening drugs that enhance social cognition in animal models, and is collaborating with clinical faculty in the Center to develop novel strategies for drug discovery and for treating social deficits in psychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia.
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