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Nearly all animals engage in a complex assortment of social behaviors that are essential for the survival of the species. In mammals, these behaviors are regulated by sub-nuclei within the hypothalamus, but the specific cell types within these nuclei responsible for coordinating behavior in distinct contexts are only beginning to be resolved. Here, we identify a population of neurons in the ventral premammillary nucleus of the hypothalamus (PMV) that are strongly activated in male intruder mice in response to a larger resident male but that are not responsive to females. Using a combination of molecular and genetic approaches, we demonstrate that these PMV neurons regulate intruder-specific male social behavior and social novelty recognition in a manner dependent on synaptic release of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. These data provide direct evidence for a unique population of neurons that regulate social behaviors in specific contexts.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Rep

Publication Date





304 - 313


Animals, Behavior, Animal, Competitive Behavior, Dopamine, Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins, Female, Glutamic Acid, Hypothalamus, Posterior, Male, Mice, Neurons