Publication date: Jul 17, 2023
Substantial advances have been made toward understanding the genetic and environmental risk factors for autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder with social impairment as a core feature. In combination with optogenetic and chemogenetic tools to manipulate neural circuits in vivo, it is now possible to use model systems to test how specific neural circuits underlie social function and dysfunction. Here, we review the literature that has identified circuits associated with social interest (sociability), social reward, social memory, dominance, and aggression, and we outline a preliminary roadmap of the neural circuits driving these social behaviors. We highlight the neural circuitry underlying each behavioral domain, as well as develop an interactive map of how these circuits overlap across domains. We find that some of the circuits underlying social behavior are general and are involved in the control of multiple behavioral aspects, whereas other circuits appear to be specialized for specific aspects of social behavior. Our overlapping circuit map therefore helps to delineate the circuits involved in the various domains of social behavior and to identify gaps in knowledge.