Neural and Neurochemical Control of the Separation Distress Call

  • Jaak Panksepp
  • Larry Normansell
  • Barbara Herman
  • Paul Bishop
  • Loring Crepeau


Our work in the area of separation-induced distress vocalizations (DVs) was precipitated by the discovery of brain opioid systems in the early 1970’s. The discovery of these systems led to diverse lines of research to identify the psychobehavioral functions of endogenous opioid systems. Many ideas have been generated, including hypotheses related to neurochemical mechanisms of reward-pleasure, stress-induced analgesia, and memory (for an overview see, Davis, 1984). Our own perspective was that this system may constitute a major neurochemical underpinning of social bonding. To put it simply, we reasoned that social attachments may reflect an opioid mediated addictive process in the brain. As summarized in Table 1, there are many reasons to believe that this might be the case. Accordingly, we decided to evaluate the putative emotional dynamics underlying social interactions (including social bonding and closely related social processes, such as gregariousness, play and dominance) by determining how opiates and other neuroactive drugs modulate DVs arising from social separation.


Squirrel Monkey Opiate Receptor Medial Forebrain Bundle Social Emotion Domestic Chick 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaak Panksepp
    • 1
  • Larry Normansell
    • 1
  • Barbara Herman
    • 2
  • Paul Bishop
    • 3
  • Loring Crepeau
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBowling Green State Univ.Bowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.Brain Research Center and Departments of Psychiatry and NeurosurgeryChildren’s Hospital National Medical Center, George Washington Univ. School of MedicineUSA
  3. 3.Computer CenterWashington CollegeChestertownUSA

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