Our lab studies the brain basis of behavior, integrating ecological, evolutionary and neuroscience perspectives in this work. My primary research is focused on the neurobiological mechanisms supporting "sociality", a.k.a. life in social groups—using diverse species to assess the universality of specific underlying pathways. What determines whether an organism is solitary or lives in social groups? Despite reasonable understanding of the costs and benefits of sociality, little is known about the biological mechanisms that promote sociality. Decades of research have explored the neurobiology of parental behavior and monogamy. Our work focuses on the pathways that support affiliation between peers.
Our primary laboratory research model for this question is the meadow vole. Meadow voles are seasonally social, transitioning from solitary and territorial to group living in the wild. This behavioral transition can be induced using day length in the laboratory, allowing to explore the what changes in neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, hormones, and circuits permit the transition to affiliation and group living. We also study same-sex “peer” affiliation versus mate affiliation in the socially monogamous prairie vole, and conduct field studies on diverse rodents that differ in their social behavior within or across species.
Other research topics in the lab include the effects of developmental exposures and experience on the epigenome and behavior, sex bias in the use of female and male research subjects, and a handful of other topics.
Lee, N. S., and Beery, A. K. 2021. The role of dopamine signaling in prairie vole peer relationships. Hormones and Behavior 127:104876.
Beery, A. K., and Shambaugh, K. L. 2021. Comparative Assessment of Familiarity/Novelty Preferences in Rodents. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 15.
Beery AK (2019). Frank Beach award winner: Neuroendocrinology of group living. Hormones and Behavior 107, 67–75.
Beery AK (2018). Inclusion of females does not increase variability in rodent research studies. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, Sex and Gender 23, 143–149.
Anacker AMJ+, Christensen JD*, LaFlamme EM*, Grunberg D*, Beery AK. (2016) Septal oxytocin administration impairs peer affiliation via V1a receptors in female meadow voles. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 68: 156-162
Beery AK, Francis DD, Kobor M. (2016) Natural variation in maternal care and cross-tissue patterns of oxytocin receptor gene methylation in rats. Hormones and Behavior. 77:42-52.