Note to users. If you're seeing this message, it means that your browser cannot find this page's style/presentation instructions -- or possibly that you are using a browser that does not support current Web standards. Find out more about why this message is appearing, and what you can do to make your experience of our site the best it can be.


Logo for

Science 325 (5942): 862-866

Copyright © 2009 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Mesotocin and Nonapeptide Receptors Promote Estrildid Flocking Behavior

James L. Goodson,* Sara E. Schrock, James D. Klatt, David Kabelik, Marcy A. Kingsbury

Abstract: Proximate neural mechanisms that influence preferences for groups of a given size are almost wholly unknown. In the highly gregarious zebra finch (Estrildidae: Taeniopygia guttata), blockade of nonapeptide receptors by an oxytocin (OT) antagonist significantly reduced time spent with large groups and familiar social partners independent of time spent in social contact. Opposing effects were produced by central infusions of mesotocin (MT, avian homolog of OT). Most drug effects appeared to be female-specific. Across five estrildid finch species, species-typical group size correlates with nonapeptide receptor distributions in the lateral septum, and sociality in female zebra finches was reduced by OT antagonist infusions into the septum but not a control area. We propose that titration of sociality by MT represents a phylogenetically deep framework for the evolution of OT’s female-specific roles in pair bonding and maternal functions.

Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jlgoodso{at}

Hypothalamic oxytocin and vasopressin neurons exert sex-specific effects on pair bonding, gregariousness, and aggression in finches.
A. M. Kelly and J. L. Goodson (2014)
PNAS 111, 6069-6074
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Oxytocin-like receptors mediate pair bonding in a socially monogamous songbird.
J. D. Klatt and J. L. Goodson (2012)
Proc R Soc B 280, 20122396
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
An aggression-specific cell type in the anterior hypothalamus of finches.
J. L. Goodson, A. M. Kelly, M. A. Kingsbury, and R. R. Thompson (2012)
PNAS 109, 13847-13852
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The social selection alternative to sexual selection.
J. Roughgarden (2012)
Phil Trans R Soc B 367, 2294-2303
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
To flock or fight: Neurochemical signatures of divergent life histories in sparrows.
J. L. Goodson, L. C. Wilson, and S. E. Schrock (2012)
PNAS 109, 10685-10692
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Species differences in the winner effect disappear in response to post-victory testosterone manipulations.
M. J. Fuxjager, J. L. Montgomery, and C. A. Marler (2011)
Proc R Soc B 278, 3497-3503
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »

To Advertise     Find Products

Science Signaling. ISSN 1937-9145 (online), 1945-0877 (print). Pre-2008: Science's STKE. ISSN 1525-8882