Overlapping neurobiological substrate linking sociality and cognition: Implications for Alzheimer’s disease

Activiteit: Academic presentationAcademic


Accumulating evidence points to the existence of a bidirectional relationship between social factors (e.g. social environment and social behavior) and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Studies in both humans and rodents have shown that the social environment can affect the risk to develop AD and the disease progression. For example, loneliness is associated with an increased risk to develop dementia, while social support could be protective. In addition, AD patients suffer from cognitive deficits but also show behavioral and psychological symptoms, including social withdrawal. In fact, many psychiatric or neurological disorders present symptoms related to both social functioning and cognitive functioning. We have established an overview and the potential of the existence of an extensive neurobiological substrate underlying the close relationship between the social and cognitive domain. By mapping the rodent brain regions involved in any of these domains, we show that the vast majority of brain regions involved in the cognitive domain are also involved in the social domain. The identified neuroanatomical overlap has an evolutionary basis and aligns with the reported functional interactions of processes underlying cognitive and social performance. We argue that the social domain requires more focus as an important treatment target for many neurological and psychiatric disorders. The implications of this intimate relationship between the social and cognitive domain are illustrated using examples from our own research in mouse models for AD. Longitudinal behavioral measurements of APP-transgenic J20 mice showed that social deficits are an early indicator of APP-pathology. Furthermore, changing the social environment (e.g. group size or composition) of wildtype and AD-transgenic mice indeed affected their behavior and brain health. Moreover, some unexpected findings offer new insights on the intricate relationship between social factors and brain health. Overall, our results highlight the importance of social factors in the development and treatment of AD.
EvenementstitelEuropean Conference on Behavioural Biology 2022: All of life is social!
LocatieGroningen, NetherlandsToon op kaart
Mate van erkenningInternational