Neural control of sex differences in social behaviors
All sexually reproducing animals exhibit innate displays of sexually dimorphic behaviors such as mating or territoriality that are sensitive to social context and experience. What neural mechanisms encode such developmentally wired behaviors that are nevertheless modifiable by experience? Despite their fundamental importance to social interactions in health and neuro-psychiatric disorders, the molecular and neural networks underlying sex differences in behaviors remain poorly understood. To tackle this long-standing problem, we leverage the fact that sex hormones regulate sexual differentiation of the brain during development and adulthood to control sex-typical behaviors. I will present our findings on uncovering sex hormone-regulated molecular and neural pathways that regulate sexually dimorphic social behaviors. I will also discuss recent results in the lab that provide insights into the neural pathways that encode decisions about how to interact with other individuals.