Genetic and endocrine correlates of variation in human sociality

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-06-06
Identifier: 
etd10193
Keywords: 
Autism
Behaviour
Genetics
Oxytocin
Testosterone, vasopressin
Abstract: 

Hormones play evolutionarily ancient roles in social behaviour; yet the degree to which hormone systems influence human socio-emotional behaviour remains unclear. It is hypothesized that (i) hormone-associated genes linked to psychiatric conditions contribute to variation in social traits among non-clinical populations, and (ii) changes in endogenous hormone levels coordinate adaptive social behaviour with stimuli in the environment. Consistent with the first hypothesis, a vasopressin receptor polymorphism linked to autism was significantly associated with autistic-like traits in healthy individuals. Consistent with the second hypothesis, an empathy-inducing stimulus was found to mediate a trade-off in hormone levels, with oxytocin increasing and testosterone decreasing. Furthermore, a common polymorphism in the general transcription factor II-I gene, which is linked to Williams syndrome, was associated with oxytocin response to the empathy-inducing stimulus and social anxiety among healthy individuals. Together, these findings highlight the diverse ways through which hormone systems contribute to variation in human sociality.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Bernard Crespi
Department: 
Science: Biological Sciences Department
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.
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