Dr. Bruce Cushing
Department of Biological Sciences
Dr. Cushing's research program examines mechanisms involved in the regulation of social and sociosexual behavior, emphasizing the role of the neuropeptides oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin and estrogen. The interaction of these systems in regulating social behavior, including social memory, pair bonds, sexual behavior, parental behavior, and aggression, makes them primary candidates for studying conditions associated with social deficit disorders. His primary animal model system is the prairie vole, which has a social system that is similar to humans, and is currently considered the main human-relevant rodent model system. They are socially monogamous; often living in family units, consisting of a male and a female, a new litter and older siblings. Dr. Cushing's current and future efforts will remain focused on developing the prairie vole as a translational model for biomedical research and for studying environmental effects on the expression of social behavior, emphasizing the organization of neuroanatomy and the mechanisms involved in the development of social behavior.