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Social isolation derails brain development in mice

September 16, 2019

Female mice housed alone during adolescence show atypical development of the prefrontal cortex and resort to habitual behavior in adulthood, according to new research published in eNeuro. These findings show how social isolation could lead to an over-reliance on habit-like behaviors that are associated with addiction and obesity.

The adult brain is largely shaped during adolescence, when some connections between brain cells are solidified and others are eliminated. Prior research has established an important role for social experience in this development.

To investigate the long-term, neurobehavioral consequences of social isolation, Hinton et al. raised mice alone during adolescence and reintroduced them to a social environment in adulthood. The researchers identified a critical period during which social isolation impaired the adult brain and behavior and linked these effects to dendritic spine excess. Therapeutic interventions targeting the refinement of the brain during adolescence may therefore represent a promising direction for future research.
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Manuscript title: Social isolation in adolescence disrupts cortical development and goal-dependent decision making in adulthood, despite social reintegration

About eNeuro

eNeuro, the Society for Neuroscience's open-access journal launched in 2014, publishes rigorous neuroscience research with double-blind peer review that masks the identity of both the authors and reviewers, minimizing the potential for implicit biases. eNeuro is distinguished by a broader scope and balanced perspective achieved by publishing negative results, failure to replicate or replication studies. New research, computational neuroscience, theories and methods are also published.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

Society for Neuroscience

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