Social Creatures: a Neuroendocrine Review, 2019

Social creatures: model animal systems for studying the neuroendocrine mechanisms of social behaviour

Kelly J. Robinson, Oliver J. Bosch, Gil Levkowitz, Karl E. Busch, Andrew Jarman & Mike Ludwig

Journal of Neuroendocrinology 2019 (link)

Keywords: neuropeptides; oxytocin; social behaviours; model animals


The interaction of animals with conspecifics, termed social behaviour, has a major impact on the survival of many vertebrate species. Neuropeptide hormones modulate the underlying physiology that governs social interactions, and many findings concerning the neuroendocrine mechanisms of social behaviours have been extrapolated from animal models to humans. Neurones expressing neuropeptides show similar distribution patterns within the hypothalamic nucleus, even when evolutionarily distant species are compared. During evolution, hypothalamic neuropeptides and releasing hormones have retained their structures and also their biological functions, including their effects on behaviour. Here we review the current understanding of the mechanisms of social behaviours in several classes of animals, such as worms, insects and fish, and laboratory, wild and domesticated mammals.