Social behavior in a genetic model of dopamine dysfunction at different neurodevelopmental time points

Genes Brain Behav. 2015 Sep;14(7):503-15. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12233. Epub 2015 Aug 25.


Impairments in social behavior characterize many neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders. In fact, the temporal emergence and trajectory of these deficits can define the disorder, specify their treatment and signal their prognosis. The sophistication of mouse models with neurobiological endophenotypes of many aspects of psychiatric diseases has increased in recent years, with the necessity to evaluate social behavior in these models. We adapted an assay for the multimodal characterization of social behavior at different development time points (juvenile, adolescent and adult) in control mice in different social contexts (specifically, different sex pairings). Although social context did not affect social behavior in juvenile mice, it did have an effect on the quantity and type of social interaction as well as ultrasonic vocalizations in both adolescence and adulthood. We compared social development in control mice to a transgenic mouse model of the increase in postsynaptic striatal D2R activity observed in patients with schizophrenia (D2R-OE mice). Genotypic differences in social interactions emerged in adolescence and appeared to become more pronounced in adulthood. That vocalizations emitted from dyads with a D2R-OE subject were negatively correlated with active social behavior while vocalizations from control dyads were positively correlated with both active and passive social behavior also suggest social deficits. These data show that striatal dopamine dysfunction plays an important role in the development of social behavior and mouse models such as the one studied here provide an opportunity for screening potential therapeutics at different developmental time points.

Keywords: Autism; developmental; dopamine; dyadic behavior; mouse behavior; schizophrenia; social interaction; striatum; ultrasonic vocalization.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / growth & development*
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurogenesis*
  • Phenotype*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Vocalization, Animal


  • Receptors, Dopamine D2