Characterizing social impairments and the role of dopamine in autism rat models

  • Awarded: 2022
  • Award Type: Targeted: Autism Rat Models Consortium
  • Award #: 899348

This project takes advantage of the rat as a model system to parse the role of striatal dopamine in social behaviors, specifically probing whether and how dysfunction in striatal processing of social interactions underlies autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Bence Ölveczky and Naoshige Uchida plan to use a system that Ölveczky’s laboratory previously developed to track social behaviors in unprecedented detail1,2; such a system will enable them to characterize social interactions in wildtype and genetic rat models of ASD. They plan to record dopamine in parts of the striatum thought to process reward and threat stimuli with the goal of assessing whether social situations are processed (and perceived) differently in rat models of ASD compared to wildtype rats. Following-up on any differences in the cohorts, Ölveczky and Uchida plan to administer oxytocin to probe whether this can normalize social behaviors in affected ASD models.


  1. Dunn T.W. et al. Methods 18, 564-573 (2021) PubMed
  2. Marshall J.D. et al. Neuron 109, 420-437 (2021) PubMed
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