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Access Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Program

Neuroscience & Behavior

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The vertebrate hypothalamus is a central node within multiple interwoven neural networks that integrate external and internal cues to control homeostasis, endocrine functions and social behavior. The neuropeptide hormone arginine-vasopressin (AVP) is produced in both the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei of the hypothalamus. Expression within these nuclei is conserved across species, and species differences in the expression of AVP and its cognate receptors correlate with differences in social behavior. As a central node within the social behavior network, chemogenetic manipulation of AVP+ cells in the paraventricular nucleus (pvn) of the hypothalamus provides a unique opportunity to investigate the relationship between social behavior and the regulation of stress responses. Here, we show that reversibly inducing excitatory activity in vasopressin neurons in the PVN results in reduced motivation for social interaction and increased grooming behavior in males. Chronic activation of PVN AVP neurons reduced social motivation in male mice that persisted even without CNO administration. These results highlight the role PVN AVP+ neurons play in the modulation of male social motivation.


First Advisor

Joseph F. Bergan

Second Advisor

Elena Vazey

Third Advisor

Heather Richardson