Research Topic

Studying Social Behavior From Integrative Levels: Methodology and Method

About this Research Topic

Social behavior, as one of the most complex behaviors of humans as well as other social species, is not only related to the biological mechanisms, including genetic, cellular, or neutral, but also associated with social and environmental factors. Abnormalities in social behavior are features of many neuropsychiatric disorders and mental illnesses, like autism spectrum disorders, social anxiety disorder, and schizophrenia, etc. However, the underlying neural mechanism for these deficits still lacks delineation in our knowledge. A wide variety of methods and techniques have been employed in clinical and laboratory settings for studying social behaviors. In clinical settings, resting-state cerebral functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) has been used in the measurement of neural structures of a human, through which the changing process of the function of one specific brain area can be observed by tasks. Similarly, resting-state and event-related electroencephalogram (EEG) can also be used to record the activities of a whole brain or one specific area. In laboratory settings, rats and mice are widely used for investigating various social behaviors, including social recognition, social discrimination, social memory, and social interaction, to reflect the social functions. Evidence indicates that social isolation can lead to various behavioral, functional and even neurostructural changes in rats and mice. And their social behavior, especially goal-directed social behavior, such as fighting and mating, is proved to be associated with scalable and persistent internal states of mood, motivation, arousal or drive. However, how those mechanisms are encoded and coupled to behavioral decision making and action selection is not clear completely.

To achieve a more comprehensive understanding of social behavior, many scholars propose to use multilevel integrative approaches ranging from genetic to social levels. However, there remain concerns regarding encompassing which specific levels of organizations when doing integrative analysis. Therefore, to elaborate the role of the structure, neural circuit, and neuroendocrine of the brain in the occurrence and development of social behavior, there exists a lot of limitations of research methods in social behavior research, especially from integrative levels.

This research topic aims to introduce the methodology and method which could be used to measure social behaviors and its neural mechanism in humans, rats and mice as well as other social species. We also aim to gather some representative protocols of social behavior measurements in a real-world context or a lab setting.

We invite submissions about, but not limited to the following topics regarding methodology and method in studying social behavior, especially from integrative levels:
1. Neural mechanisms of social or social-related behavior in humans, rats or mice from various perspectives, for instance, neuroimaging, neuroendocrine, and nerve structure studies, etc.
2. The protocols of human social behavior measurement in real-world contexts or clinical or laboratory settings using various methods, such as fMRI, EEG.
3. The protocols of all kinds of social or social-related behavior tests of rats and mice.
4. Commentary, perspectives or opinions about the use, strengths, and limitations, as well as ethical concerns of this topic are also welcome.


Keywords: Human social behaviors, Method and methodology, Neural mechanisms, Rats and mice, Social and social-related behaviors, Multilevel integrative approaches


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Social behavior, as one of the most complex behaviors of humans as well as other social species, is not only related to the biological mechanisms, including genetic, cellular, or neutral, but also associated with social and environmental factors. Abnormalities in social behavior are features of many neuropsychiatric disorders and mental illnesses, like autism spectrum disorders, social anxiety disorder, and schizophrenia, etc. However, the underlying neural mechanism for these deficits still lacks delineation in our knowledge. A wide variety of methods and techniques have been employed in clinical and laboratory settings for studying social behaviors. In clinical settings, resting-state cerebral functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) has been used in the measurement of neural structures of a human, through which the changing process of the function of one specific brain area can be observed by tasks. Similarly, resting-state and event-related electroencephalogram (EEG) can also be used to record the activities of a whole brain or one specific area. In laboratory settings, rats and mice are widely used for investigating various social behaviors, including social recognition, social discrimination, social memory, and social interaction, to reflect the social functions. Evidence indicates that social isolation can lead to various behavioral, functional and even neurostructural changes in rats and mice. And their social behavior, especially goal-directed social behavior, such as fighting and mating, is proved to be associated with scalable and persistent internal states of mood, motivation, arousal or drive. However, how those mechanisms are encoded and coupled to behavioral decision making and action selection is not clear completely.

To achieve a more comprehensive understanding of social behavior, many scholars propose to use multilevel integrative approaches ranging from genetic to social levels. However, there remain concerns regarding encompassing which specific levels of organizations when doing integrative analysis. Therefore, to elaborate the role of the structure, neural circuit, and neuroendocrine of the brain in the occurrence and development of social behavior, there exists a lot of limitations of research methods in social behavior research, especially from integrative levels.

This research topic aims to introduce the methodology and method which could be used to measure social behaviors and its neural mechanism in humans, rats and mice as well as other social species. We also aim to gather some representative protocols of social behavior measurements in a real-world context or a lab setting.

We invite submissions about, but not limited to the following topics regarding methodology and method in studying social behavior, especially from integrative levels:
1. Neural mechanisms of social or social-related behavior in humans, rats or mice from various perspectives, for instance, neuroimaging, neuroendocrine, and nerve structure studies, etc.
2. The protocols of human social behavior measurement in real-world contexts or clinical or laboratory settings using various methods, such as fMRI, EEG.
3. The protocols of all kinds of social or social-related behavior tests of rats and mice.
4. Commentary, perspectives or opinions about the use, strengths, and limitations, as well as ethical concerns of this topic are also welcome.


Keywords: Human social behaviors, Method and methodology, Neural mechanisms, Rats and mice, Social and social-related behaviors, Multilevel integrative approaches


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

28 August 2021 Abstract
26 December 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

28 August 2021 Abstract
26 December 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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