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Author Notes:

Corresponding author. jpburke@emory.edu (J.P.B.); lyoun03@emory.edu (L.J.Y.).

We gratefully acknowledge colony management by L. Mathews, cage design and assembly by G. Feldpausch, and assistance from F. Haddad, L. Hearn, L. S. Jones, K. Kittelberger, R. C. Pearcy, M. Reyes, and M. Carr-Reynolds.


Research Funding:

This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (1P50MH100023 and R01MH096983) to L.J.Y. and by predoctoral fellowships from the NIH (NIGMS T32GM08605-10, F31 MH102911-01) and Emory University (Emory Neuroscience Initiative Scholars Program in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Research) to J.P.B. Additional support was provided by a grant from the NIH (OD P51OD011132) to Yerkes National Primate Research Center.


  • Science & Technology
  • Multidisciplinary Sciences
  • Science & Technology - Other Topics
  • PAIN

Oxytocin-dependent consolation behavior in rodents


Journal Title:



Volume 351, Number 6271


, Pages 375-378

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Consolation behavior toward distressed others is common in humans and great apes, yet our ability to explore the biological mechanisms underlying this behavior is limited by its apparent absence in laboratory animals. Here, we provide empirical evidence that a rodent species, the highly social and monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster), greatly increases partner-directed grooming toward familiar conspecifics (but not strangers) that have experienced an unobserved stressor, providing social buffering. Prairie voles also match the fear response, anxiety-related behaviors, and corticosterone increase of the stressed cagemate, suggesting an empathy mechanism. Exposure to the stressed cagemate increases activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, and oxytocin receptor antagonist infused into this region abolishes the partner-directed response, showing conserved neural mechanisms between prairie vole and human.

Copyright information:

© 2016, American Association for the Advancement of Science

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