Curr Opin Behav Sci.

2015 Jun; 3: 38–44.

Zachary V Johnson and Larry J Young


Species have evolved diverse social behavior and mating strategies in response to selective forces in their environments. While promiscuity is the predominant mating strategy across most vertebrate taxa, convergent evolution of monogamous mating systems has occurred multiple times across distant lineages. Monogamous behavior is thought to be facilitated by a neurobiological capacity to form and maintain selective social attachments, or pair bonds, with a mating partner. The neural mechanisms of pair bonding behavior have been investigated most rigorously in Microtine rodents, which exhibit diverse social organizations. These studies have highlighted mesolimbic dopamine pathways, social neuropeptides (oxytocin and vasopressin), and other neural systems as integral factors in the formation, maintenance, and expression of pair bonds.