Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Cell Biology and Neuroscience


Rowan-Virtua School of Translational Biomedical Engineering & Sciences


Daniel Chandler, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Benjamin Rood, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Daniel Manvich, Ph.D.

Committee Member 3

Barry Waterhouse, Ph.D.

Committee Member 4

Joseph Lonstein, Ph.D.


Avp, Avpr1a, Dorsal raphe, Serotonin, Social behavior, Vasopressin


Social behavior in animals


Medical Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Neurosciences


Human social interactions heavily impact our physical and mental wellbeing. Arginine-vasopressin (Avp) and serotonin have both been implicated in modulation of social behaviors ranging from affiliation to aggression. In male mice, Avp neurons in the bed nucleus of stria terminalis (BNST) show increased activity during prosocial behavior. BNST sends Avp afferents to the dorsal raphe (DR) in the midbrain, a home to a large portion of serotonin neurons in the mouse brain. Previous data suggests that DR is activated during male prosocial behavior with a female stimulus, and Avp indirectly excites serotonin neurons. We hypothesized that DR contains a population of vasopressin receptor 1a-expressing (Avpr1a) cells that may be involved in the regulation of social behavior. Our Fos expression data revealed that DR Avpr1a cells are active during an exposure to a female stimulus, suggesting that DR Avpr1a neurons may influence prosocial behavior. Using a novel Avrp1a-Cre mouse, we characterized the neuroanatomy of DR Avpr1a neurons. Then, hM4Di-mediated inhibition of DR Avpr1a neurons showed reduced social behavior, but unaltered nonsocial behavior, during interactions with a female stimulus in both male and female subjects. Interestingly, inhibition of DR Avpr1a neurons increased aspects of social behavior selectively in males exposed to a male stimulus. Overall, our studies provide insights into the role of DR Avpr1a cells during social behavior and establish a novel mouse model that is poised to accelerate research on the mouse Avp system.

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