How Can Dopamine Influence Our Ability To Socialize? New Study Finds

Brain News

A team of international researchers explored how dopamine in the cerebellum influences our ability to socialize. The study is published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The Study

The team of researchers were drawn from the University of Montpellier (France), the Institut de Neurociències Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (INc-UAB) (Spain), and the University of Lausanne (Switzerland).

To understand how the dopamine D2 receptors (D2R) in the cerebellum modulates social behaviors—the researchers combined cell-type-specific transcriptomics, histological analyses, three-dimensional imaging, and patch-clamp recordings. They used this combined technology in different mouse models and genetic tools.

The Findings

The results causally linked cerebellar D2R levels of expression to social behaviors. It revealed that cerebellar dopamine D2 receptors (D2Rs) in mice are preferentially expressed in Purkinje cells (PCs). This regulates synaptic efficacy onto PCs and influences social conduct.

Moreover it was found that changes in the D2R levels in PCs of male mice during adulthood dramatically changes their ability to socialize and preferences for social novelty. This alteration, however, does not affect motor functions—the primary function of the cerebellum.

One of the lead researchers, Dr. Laura Cutando, explained: “Reducing the expression of this specific dopamine receptor impaired the sociability of mice as well as their preference for social novelty, while their coordination and motor functions remained unaffected.”

Clinical Significance Of The Study

The researchers are enthusiastic that the findings from the study would help better understand the origins and mechanisms of socially related psychiatric disorders, especially the role played by altered dopamine receptors’ expression in specific cerebellar cell types. Such disorders include autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders.

To Know More You May Refer To

Cutando, L., Puighermanal, E., Castell, L., Tarot, P., Belle, M., Bertaso, F., Arango-Lievano, M., Ango, F., Rubinstein, M., Quintana, A., Chédotal, A., Mameli, M., & Valjent, E. (2022). Cerebellar dopamine D2 receptors regulate social behaviors. Nature neuroscience, 10.1038/s41593-022-01092-8. Advance online publication.

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  • How Can Dopamine Influence Our Ability To Socialize? New Study Finds