Neonatal oxytocin and vasopressin manipulation alter social behavior during the juvenile period in Mongolian gerbils

Jack H. Taylor, Jon Cavanaugh, Jeffrey A. French

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Oxytocin and vasopressin are important modulators of a wide variety of social behaviors, and increasing evidence is showing that these neuropeptides are important organizational effectors of later-life behavior as well. We treated day-old gerbil pups with oxytocin, vasopressin, an oxytocin receptor antagonist, a vasopressin V1a receptor antagonist, or saline control, and then measured received parental responsiveness during the early postnatal period and juvenile social behavior during weaning. Neonatal vasopressin treatment enhanced sociality in males, but not females, at both developmental time points. When pups were individually placed outside the nest, parents were more responsive to male pups treated with vasopressin compared with littermates, and vasopressin treated male pups exhibited increased play with littermates as juveniles. These results show that vasopressin during very early life can enhance social interactions throughout early development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-657
Number of pages5
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2017



  • development
  • neonatal
  • oxytocin
  • parental care
  • play
  • vasopressin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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