About this item:

16 Views | 4 Downloads

Author Notes:

Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, 100 Mallett Street, Camperdown, NSW, 2050, Australia.adam.guastella@sydney.edu.au (A.J. Guastella).

We acknowledge a NHMRC career development fellowship (APP1061922) and Project Grants (1043664 and 1125449) as well as a BUPA Foundation Grant to Adam J. Guastella, US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants R01MH112788 and 1P50MH100023 to L.J.Y. and P51OD11132 to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center (YNPRC), a NHMRC senior principal research fellowship (APP1136259) to Ian B. Hickie and an Research Training Program Fellowship to Marilena M. DeMayo (SC0042/SC1999).

Professor Ian Hickie was an inaugural Commissioner on Australia’s National Mental Health Commission (2012–18). He is the Co-Director, Health and Policy at the Brain and Mind Centre (BMC) University of Sydney. The BMC operates an early-intervention youth services at Camperdown under contract to headspace. Professor Hickie has previously led community-based and pharmaceutical industry-supported (Wyeth, Eli Lily, Servier, Pfizer, AstraZeneca) projects focused on the identification and better management of anxiety and depression. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Panel for Medibank Private until October 2017, a Board Member of Psychosis Australia Trust and a member of Veterans Mental Health Clinical Reference group. He is the Chief Scientific Advisor to, and an equity shareholder in, Innowell. Innowell has been formed by the University of Sydney and PwC to deliver the $30 m Australian Government-funded ‘Project Synergy’. Project Synergy is a three year program for the transformation of mental health services through the use of innovative technologies. He is the Chief Scientific Advisor to, and a 5% equity shareholder in, InnoWell Pty Ltd. InnoWell was formed by the University of Sydney (45% equity) and PwC (Australia; 45% equity) to deliver the $30 M Australian Government-funded Project Synergy (2017–20; a three-year program for the transformation of mental health services) and to lead transformation of mental health services internationally through the use of innovative technologies.


Research Funding:

We would like to thank Miriam-Rose Ash, Eleanor Taylor, Milunka Zivadinovic, Patrick Locke, Shrujna Patel and Patrick May for editing assistance and Heidi Cartwright and Marcus Cremonese for their assistance in developing figures.


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Neurosciences
  • Neurosciences & Neurology
  • Social development
  • Social cognition
  • Oxytocin
  • Social skills training
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Amygdala
  • Research domain criteria
  • Infant
  • Biomarkers
  • Parent-child interaction
  • Bonding
  • 1ST YEAR

Circuits for social learning: A unified model and application to Autism Spectrum Disorder


Journal Title:



Volume 107


, Pages 388-398

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Early life social experiences shape neural pathways in infants to develop lifelong social skills. This review presents the first unified circuit-based model of social learning that can be applied to early life social development, drawing together unique human developmental milestones, sensitive learning periods, and behavioral and neural scaffolds. Circuit domains for social learning are identified governing Activation, Integration, Discrimination, Response and Reward (AIDRR) to sculpt and drive human social learning. This unified model can be used to identify social delays earlier in development. We propose social impairments observed in Autism Spectrum Disorder are underpinned by early mistimed sensitive periods in brain development and alterations in amygdala development to disrupt the AIDRR circuits. This model directs how interventions can target neural circuits for social development and be applied early in life. To illustrate, the role of oxytocin and its use as an intervention is explored. The AIDRR model shifts focus away from delivering broad treatments based only on diagnostic classifications, to specifying and targeting the relevant circuits, at the right time of development, to optimize social learning.

Copyright information:


This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/rdf).
Export to EndNote