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Principal Investigator: Scott Young

Scott Young

Section on Neural Gene Expression

Photo of Scott Young.


Dr. Young received his B.A., M.D. and Ph.D from The Johns Hopkins University. The latter degree, obtained under the guidance of Michael Kuhar, described the development of in vitro receptor autoradiography and the first applications of the technique to the localization of neurotranmsitter receptors in human and other animal brains. Dr. Young then completed an internship in internal medicine at the University of Maryland and a residency in neurology at the University of Virginia. He joined the NIMH in 1984 where he has studied the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei in the hypothalamus. Dr. Young's laboratory is currently using and creating knock-out and transgenic mice to study the roles of vasopressin and oxytocin in the brain.

Research Interests

The Section on Neural Gene Expression investigates the roles and regulation of expression of vasopressin and oxytocin in the central nervous system. They are 9 amino acid peptide hormones that participate in the regulation of fluid balance, parturition and lactation. In addition, they have important roles in various behaviors, including social and maternal ones, through their actions mediated by at least 4 receptors.

Our group uses a variety of techniques ranging from anatomical (hybridization histochemistry and receptor autoradiography) to molecular biological to transgenic animals to explore gene expression. For example, we have generated mice lacking functional oxytocin , as well as mice that express green fluorescent protein  in oxytocin neurons, in our attempts to determine the essential and non-essential roles of this hormone. Our latest work examines the vasopressin 1b receptor knockout mice that we made. These mice show a marked reduction in aggression and a modest decline in social recognition. We have recently begun studying the first conditional knockout of the oxytocin receptor . These mice show decreased fear conditioning  and deficits in intra-strain, but not inter-strain, social recognition . Our various studies with transgenic, including knockout mice, are listed here.

Selected Publications

Infusion-based manganese-enhanced MRI: a new imaging technique to visualize the mouse brain . Mok SI, Munasinghe JP, Young WS. Brain Struct Funct. 2012 Jan;217(1):107-14. doi: 10.1007/s00429-011-0324-y. Epub 2011 May 20. PMID: 21597966.

Postweaning, forebrain-specific perturbation of the oxytocin system impairs fear conditioning . Pagani JH, Lee HJ, Young WS 3rd. Genes Brain Behav. 2011 Oct;10(7):710-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2011.00709.x. Epub 2011 Jul 1. PMID: 21668734.

Oxytocin and the oxytocin receptor underlie intrastrain, but not interstrain, social recognition . Macbeth AH, Lee HJ, Edds J, Young WS 3rd. Genes Brain Behav. 2009 Jul;8(5):558-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2009.00506.x. Epub 2009 May 21. PMID: 19531157.

Vasopressin 1b receptor knock-out impairs memory for temporal order . DeVito LM, Konigsberg R, Lykken C, Sauvage M, Young WS 3rd, Eichenbaum H. J Neurosci. 2009 Mar 4;29(9):2676-83. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5488-08.2009. PMID: 19261862.

Oxytocin as a natural antipsychotic: a study using oxytocin knockout mice . Caldwell HK, Stephens SL, Young WS 3rd. Mol Psychiatry. 2009 Feb;14(2):190-6. doi: 10.1038/ Epub 2008 Jan 29. PMID: 18227836.

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