The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) plays important roles in social behaviors, but it is not clear how early social experiences affect the mPFC and its subcortical circuit. We report that mice singly housed for 8 weeks immediately after weaning (SH mice) show a deficit in social recognition, even after 4 weeks of re-socialization. In SH mice, prefrontal infralimbic (IL) neurons projecting to the shell region of nucleus accumbens (NAcSh) showed decreased excitability compared to normally group housed (GH) mice. Furthermore, NAcSh-projecting IL neurons were activated when the mice encountered a familiar conspecific, which was not shown in SH mice. Chemogenetic inhibition of NAcSh-projecting IL neurons in normal mice selectively impaired social recognition without affecting social interaction, whereas activation of these neurons reversed social recognition deficit in SH mice. Therefore, mPFC IL-NAcSh projection is a novel brain circuit affected by early social experience; its activation is required for the social recognition.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience