Developmental experiences and the oxytocin receptor system

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The long-term effects of developmental experiences on social behavior, and the neuropeptide systems such as oxytocin which subserve the behavior, are still little understood. In this article, we review various types of early experience, including normal development, knockout models, pharmacological exposures, and early social experiences. We consider the processes by which experience can affect oxytocin receptor binding, and what is known about the directionality of experience effects on oxytocin receptors. Finally, we attempt to synthesize the literature into a predictive model as to the direction of early experience effects on oxytocin receptor binding potential, and whether these changes have functional significance. These predictions are relevant to current human health practice, given proposals to use chronic intranasal oxytocin to treat developmental disorders including autism and schizophrenia. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Social Behavior

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