Neural circuits regulating prosocial behaviors

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2023 Jan;48(1):79-89. doi: 10.1038/s41386-022-01348-8. Epub 2022 Jun 14.


Positive, prosocial interactions are essential for survival, development, and well-being. These intricate and complex behaviors are mediated by an amalgamation of neural circuit mechanisms working in concert. Impairments in prosocial behaviors, which occur in a large number of neuropsychiatric disorders, result from disruption of the coordinated activity of these neural circuits. In this review, we focus our discussion on recent findings that utilize modern approaches in rodents to map, monitor, and manipulate neural circuits implicated in a variety of prosocial behaviors. We highlight how modulation by oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission in specific brain regions is critical for regulation of adaptive prosocial interactions. We then describe how recent findings have helped elucidate pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the social deficits that accompany neuropsychiatric disorders. We conclude by discussing approaches for the development of more efficacious and targeted therapeutic interventions to ameliorate aberrant prosocial behaviors.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Altruism*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Dopamine
  • Oxytocin* / physiology
  • Social Behavior
  • Synaptic Transmission


  • Oxytocin
  • Dopamine