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Neuronal processing of social cues


Most animals live in groups and coordinate behavior with conspecifics in dyadic interactions (mating, aggression, parenting) or larger groups (hierarchies, swarms). These behaviors are driven by sensory cues emitted by other animals. Thus, elucidating how neural circuits transform these cues into behavior is a central quest of social neuroscience. To date, conserved neuromodulators and brain areas controlling specific social behaviors provide examples for shared neural substrates across species and motivate the exciting hypothesis that animals evolved specialized neural circuits to detect and respond to social sensory cues.

Investigating sensory processing in the context of social behavior is inherently difficult because, in most cases, the mutual interactions between individuals and the resulting sensory experience are beyond experimental control. Only recently, technological advances allow integrated analysis of neural activity during social interactions. This workshop will focus on experiments and theory aimed at understanding the nature of social sensory cues and their detection and representation by neuronal circuits. Model systems include fruit flies, fish, birds, rodents and primates.