An increasing amount of research effort is being directed toward investigating the neural bases of social cognition from a systems neuroscience perspective. Evidence from multiple animal species is beginning to provide a mechanistic understanding of the substrates of social behaviors at multiple levels of neurobiology, ranging from those underlying high-level social constructs in humans and their more rudimentary underpinnings in monkeys to circuit-level and cell-type-specific instantiations of social behaviors in rodents. Here we review literature examining the neural mechanisms of social decision-making in humans, non-human primates and rodents, focusing on the amygdala and the medial and orbital prefrontal cortical regions and their functional interactions. We also discuss how the neuropeptide oxytocin impacts these circuits and their downstream effects on social behaviors. Overall, we conclude that regulated interactions of neuronal activity in the prefrontal–amygdala pathways critically contribute to social decision-making in the brains of primates and rodents.
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This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH120081, R01MH110750). We thank P. Putnam, S. Fan and O. Meisner for their helpful comments on the manuscript and C. Stanton for help with the figure illustrations.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Peer review information Nature Neuroscience thanks Ralph Adolphs and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Gangopadhyay, P., Chawla, M., Dal Monte, O. et al. Prefrontal–amygdala circuits in social decision-making. Nat Neurosci 24, 5–18 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-020-00738-9
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