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Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders

The mission of the Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders is to conduct basic and translational research to better understand the neurobiological and genetic mechanisms underlying behaviors relevant to developmental and psychiatric conditions such as autism spectrum disorders, anxiety-related disorders, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Larry Young, PhD, leads this division. He is best known for his research focused on pair bonding in rodents and has successfully generated the first transgenic prairie voles, an important step toward unlocking the neural circuitry of social relationships. The future application of this technology will enable scientists to perform a host of genetic manipulations that will help identify the brain mechanisms of social bonding and other complex social behaviors. This advancement may also have important implications for understanding and treating psychiatric disorders associated with impairments in social behavior.

Discoveries division scientists have had direct implications for psychiatric disorders such as autism and PTSD. Discoveries have also been translated to clinical applications, as demonstrated by the use of D-cycloserine to treat phobias and PTSD, and intranasal oxytocin to improve social fundtion in autism. Scientists in the division will continue to use state-of-the-art techniques to better understand social behavior, fear learning and memory and stress responses.

Division scientists serve as intellectual resources for neural circuit analysis and manipulations, and animal models of psychiatric disorders for other scientists within Yerkes, as well as regional, national and international collaborators.

Division Researchers