The effects of acute social isolation on long-term social recognition memory

Noam Leser, Shlomo Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The abilities to recognize individual animals of the same species and to distinguish them from other individuals are the basis for all mammalian social organizations and relationships. These abilities, termed social recognition memory, can be explored in mice and rats using their innate tendency to investigate novel social stimuli more persistently than familiar ones. Using this methodology it was found that social recognition memory is mediated by a specific neural network in the brain, the activity of which is modulated by several molecules, such the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin. During the last 15. years several independent studies have revealed that social recognition memory of mice and rats depends upon their housing conditions. Specifically, long-term social recognition memory cannot be formed as shortly as few days following social isolation of the animal. This rapid and reversible impairment caused by acute social isolation seems to be specific to social memory and has not been observed in other types of memory. Here we review these studies and suggest that this unique system may serve for exploring of the mechanisms underlying the well-known negative effects of partial or perceived social isolation on human mental health.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)97-103
Number of pages7
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • Hippocampus
  • Long-term memory
  • Medial amygdala
  • Olfactory bulb
  • Social isolation
  • Social recognition memory

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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