Prairie voles are a monogamous species native to the American Midwest. They are becoming a premier biomedical model for conditions that involve social dysfunction (such as autism and other developmental disorders). See the Vole Community website at http://research.yerkes.emory.edu/Young/vole.html.
In our lab, we study the effects of early experience on the adult social behavior and neuroendocrine systems of prairie voles, especially focusing on the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin. We have used a number of early manipulations including developmental exposure to oxytocin; early handling manipulations; and early naturalistic experiences such as alloparenting siblings. We have shown that these manipulations have long-term effects on social behavior including alloparenting and pair-bonding, as well as oxytocin and vasopressin systems.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Institutes of Health, grant MH073022 to C. Sue Carter and Karen L. Bales.