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Animal parenting, personality and pair-ups

rding to Saltzman.

In the case of small rodents called voles, researchers have delved deeper into the biological mechanisms underlying the animals' mating behavior. Prairie voles mate for life, while a closely related species, the meadow mole, is promiscuous.

The difference seems to be that the receptors for a hormone called vasopressin are concentrated in different brain areas for each species, according to Larry Young of Emory University. Young and his colleagues have found that the receptors are located in the same areas involved in reward and addiction in the monogamous voles, but they're not present there in other vole species.

The researchers have also determined that the location of the receptors is determined by a single gene, which contains stretches of extra DNA in the monogamous voles but not in the promiscuous ones. Similar variations in this gene have also been found in humans.

"Other studies have found associations between this genetic variability and autism, which is a disease that affects social bonding and behavior. So, there's an interesting question there," Young said.


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20-Feb-2005


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