Neurobiology and the Evolution of Mammalian Social Behavior

C. Sue Carter and Stephen W. Porges

in Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199755059
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979479 | DOI:
Neurobiology and the Evolution of Mammalian Social Behavior

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At the heart of mammalian social behaviors are evolved neural and endocrine pathways that support both survival and reproduction in an “environment of evolutionary adaptiveness.” The physiological prototype for mammalian social behaviors can be found in birth, lactation, and maternal behavior. Two mammalian neuropeptides, oxytocin and arginine vasopressin, are particularly critical to mammalian reproduction and sociality, with actions throughout the central and autonomic nervous systems. The same systems that regulate the formation of social bonds and attachments also regulate emotionality and reactivity to stressful experiences. Knowledge of these neurobiological systems helps to explain the causes and consequences of social behavior and the mechanisms through which social behavior is integrated with emotional regulation and management of the “stress of life.”

Keywords: social behavior; autonomic nervous system; oxytocin; vasopressin; evolution

Chapter.  8489 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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