Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders
William P. Timmie Professor
Department of Psychiatry
Lab Web Site:
Larry Young, PhD, Chief of the Yerkes Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders, studied biochemistry at the University of Georgia. After becoming excited about the possibility of making new discoveries for understanding the complexities of life at the molecular level, he decided to dedicate his career to understanding how the brain functions to generate complex behaviors in animals. After earning his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Georgia, Dr. Young completed his graduate training in zoology and received his doctorate from the University of Texas. Dr. Young then moved to Emory University for his postdoctoral training and was promoted to faculty in the Department of Psychiatry, Emory School of Medicine in 1996.
Dr. Young is also the Director of the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience (CTSN) at Emory. CTSN investigators at Yerkes, Emory School of Medicine, Emory College and the Marcus Autism Center are seeking to understand the basic neurobiology and genetics of social behavior, including social bonding, cooperation and social reciprocity. The researchers are also focused on psychiatric disorders characterized by impaired social function, including autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia. Center researchers are striving not only to better understand the social brain, but also to develop new treatment strategies for improving social functioning in autism and schizophrenia.
Dr. Young is also the Principal Investigator and Director of the $9.5 million NIH Silvio O. Conte Center at Emory. The goal of the Center is to understand precisely how oxytocin influences brain circuits to enhance social cognition in rodents, rhesus macaques and humans with and without a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
The CTSN and Conte research is complementary to Dr. Young’s own research, which is focused on understanding the genetic and neurobiological mechanisms underlying complex social behaviors, including social bonding and social attachments. He is most well known for his research examining the mechanisms underlying pair bond formation in monogamous prairie voles. His studies have highlighted the roles of oxytocin and vasopressin in regulating social behavior. This work has important implications for psychiatric disorders characterized by disruption in social cognition, including autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. Dr. Young’s lab is now using this basic understanding of social cognition to identify novel drugs to treat social deficits in psychiatric disorders.
Dr. Young is currently President of the international Society for Social Neurosceence (S4SN), which promotes the integration of research on social neuroscience in animal models with human research.
In 2014, Dr. Young was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2012, he received the Daniel H. Efron award for Excellence in Research in Neuropsychopharmacology by the American College of Neuropshchopharmacology.
In summer 2012, Dr. Young spent two weeks in Dharamsala, India, teaching neuroscience to Tibetan monks as part of the Robert A. Paul Emory-Tibet Science Initiative.
Dr. Young's first book, The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction, presents a unified theory of how love, sex and human social bonding is created in our brains, how that creation drives our behavior, and how these mechanisms fit into social, historical and political contexts.
Dr. Young is a frequent speaker and often interviewed by media worldwide. To watch the 2014 interview with Dr. Young on Inside Science TV about the "Science of Love," click here. To watch Dr. Young's presentation at TEDxEmory, click here. To read the February 2014 Smithsonian magazine article about Dr. Young's research, click here. To read and listen to "Learning About Love From Prairie Vole Bonding" on NPR from February 2014, click here.
View publications on PubMed