Principal Investigator

Larry Young, Ph.D

 

Dr. Young conducts research on the neurobiologial bases of complex social behavior and social cognition. He is interested in understanding the neural circuitry and genetics underlying social information processing and the formation of social bonds. He is also interested in understanding the biological bases for diversity and the evolution of social behaviors. Much of his research examines the mechanisms underlying pair bond formation in monogamous prairie voles, and has highlighted the roles of oxytocin and vasopressin in regulating social behavior. This work has important implications for psychiatric disorders characterized by disruption in social cognition, including autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. Dr. Young's lab is now using this basic understanding of social cognition to identify novel drugs to treat social deficits in psychiatric disorders.

Emory Neuroscience
Graduate Program

Kiyoshi Inoue, Ph.D.

 

I joined the Young lab as a post-doc in November 2007 after conducting research at Osaka Bioscience Institute, Osaka University and Nagoya City University in Japan. My research interest is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in the expression of higher brain functions and also in the onset of mental disorders which occur when brain function is impaired. Specifically, I have been screening for genes involved in the mechanism of depression using several mouse models of depression, as well as performing functional analyses of the genes identified from the above screens, and genes identified from patient samples.

Research Associates

Post-Docs

Hasse Walum

 

I received my PhD from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden in 2012. During my graduate studies, inspired by rodent work on the pro-social effects of oxytocin and vasopressin, I examined associations between genetic markers in genes related to neuropeptide signaling and pair-bonding behavior in humans. My PhD work also included investigations of the role of oxytocin in pair-bond formation in humans. As a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience I am primarily studying if oxytocin is involved in social learning and memory function in non-human primates. I am also investigating the potential of using oxytocin receptor antagonists to influence oxytocin dependent behavior in primates. My other research interests include evolutionary perspectives on human behavior, with focus on mating related phenotypes. 

Elissar Andari

I am adopting translational science and precision medicine for targeting potential treatments for social disorders. My interest stands on investigating the neurobiological dysfunctions underlying social deficits in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). I am currently investigating the role of intranasal oxytocin in enhancing social functioning and in modulating key emotional brain regions in individuals with ASD. I am also interested in understanding heterogeneity of social deficits in ASD and coming up with novel behavioral and objective outcome measures to measure social functions. In addition to my main human work, I am conducting fundamental research in animal models of autism in order to better understand the brain mechanisms of social functions and oxytocin system. If you are interested in participating in our study AOB (or Autism Oxytocin Brain project), please feel to contact me at 404-712 9661 or email me at eandari@emory.edu. 

Graduate Students

Kara Kittleberger

 

I began my graduate work at Emory in 2011 and joined the Young lab in 2012. I have always been deeply interested in the biological basis of complex social interactions and plan to further explore this area of research during my thesis work. I am using the prairie vole as a model of functional social cognition to understand how the oxytocin system is regulated in the generation of social behaviors. This work aims to identify novel pharmacotherapies capable of facilitating oxytocin release and enhancing social cognition. These drugs could be useful for the treatment of disorders which impact social functioning, such Autism Spectrum Disorders. 

Byron Gardner

 

In college I developed an interest in the research showing relationships between genetic variation and human behavior. I started working in the Young lab in 2013 as a post-baccalaurette in the Emory PREP prgram. My first project was to define previously unknown genetic variation in Oxtr and Avpr1a in Chimpanzees. I then enrolled in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Emory in 2014, where I have continued studying primate genetics. I have also begun to explore genotype-dependent trancriptional regulation in the socially monogamous prairie vole.

Desiree Deleon

 

I joined the Young Lab in 2015 in collaboration with the Sanchez Lab at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center field station. The focus of my research is to identify the genetic variation of socially relevant genes, such as OXT and OXTR, in rhesus macaque and determine the extent that particular variants influence social behavior.

Jim Kwon

 

I study social behavior in collaboration with Drs. Larry Young and Robert Liu. I utilize the prairie vole model to investigate the electrophysiological effects of oxytocin during specific social behaviors, and how the oxytocin modulation affects pair bonding of the animals. I am also investigating how oxytocin affects salience of social cues. Another aspect of my project is using unsupervised machine learning approaches to identify data-driven behavioral classifications. 

Staff

Lorra Mathews

Senior Research Specialist / Registered Laboratory Animal Technician

 

I came to Emory in 1999 after receiving my Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the State University of West Georgia. As a Psychology minor, with much interest in human as well as animal social interaction, I hoped to eventually find a position combining my interest in physical and social science with my love of animals. I spent three and half years in an Immunology laboratory honing my molecular biology skills and managing a large transgenic mouse colony. I received the opportunity to join the Young Laboratory in July 2002. I am responsible for the management and genotyping of rodent colonies from mouse to vole, while acting as liason between the lab and Yerkes Veterinary/Animal Care staff.

Ingrid Budreckas

Administrative Coordinator for BNPD and CTSN 

 

 

Alumni

Post-Docs

Graduate Students

Geoff Adams

Alaine Keebaugh

 

Elizabeth Ann Amadei

Zack Johnson

James Burkett

Lanikea King

Katie Barrett

Sara Freeman

 

Jamie LaPrairie

Aaron Smith

 

Research Associates