A prefrontal–paraventricular thalamus circuit requires juvenile social experience to regulate adult sociability in mice

Nature Neuroscience (2020)Cite this article


Juvenile social isolation reduces sociability in adulthood, but the underlying neural circuit mechanisms are poorly understood. We found that, in male mice, 2 weeks of social isolation immediately following weaning leads to a failure to activate medial prefrontal cortex neurons projecting to the posterior paraventricular thalamus (mPFC→pPVT) during social exposure in adulthood. Chemogenetic or optogenetic suppression of mPFC→pPVT activity in adulthood was sufficient to induce sociability deficits without affecting anxiety-related behaviors or preference toward rewarding food. Juvenile isolation led to both reduced excitability of mPFC→pPVT neurons and increased inhibitory input drive from low-threshold-spiking somatostatin interneurons in adulthood, suggesting a circuit mechanism underlying sociability deficits. Chemogenetic or optogenetic stimulation of mPFC→pPVT neurons in adulthood could rescue the sociability deficits caused by juvenile isolation. Our study identifies a pair of specific medial prefrontal cortex excitatory and inhibitory neuron populations required for sociability that are profoundly affected by juvenile social experience.

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About S. R. Zelenz 119 Articles
S.R. Zelenz has worked in education for 20 years. Working with students from all walks of life, cultures, races, and social diversity, Zelenz’s research in Educational Leadership led to finding a better way to approach learning for students with trauma histories. Many were juvenile offenders, gang members, diagnosed with varying behavioral disorders, or had family histories of violence, murder, or narcissistic parenting. This research could not be effectively accomplished without further understanding: how epigenetic trauma inheritance may be impacting these students; how brain development from trauma may be impacting their behavioral and emotional development; as well as deep understanding of psychology and its varying classifications for behavioral and personality disorders. The goal is to find solutions for changing the conversation and making a real difference for these students. She has also worked with nonprofits of varying focus areas for the last 25 years. Her undergraduate degree in Arts Administration and Music prepared her for managing nonprofits of any size as well as procuring funding so that they can achieve their goals. Pairing her nonprofit background with her education background, she has been able to make a difference for over 200 nonprofits worldwide, written curriculum for schools across the globe, and assisted many arts organizations through performance and management.