The appropriate display of social behavior is critical for the well-being and survival of an individual. In many psychiatric disorders, including social anxiety disorder, autism spectrum disorders, depression and schizophrenia social behavior is severely impaired. Selective targeting of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) has emerged as a novel treatment strategy for these disorders. In this review, we describe some of the behavioral paradigms used to assess different types of social behavior, such as social interaction, social memory, aggressive behavior and sexual behavior. We then focus on the effects of pharmacological modulation of mGluR1-8 on these types of social behavior. Indeed, accumulating evidence indicates beneficial effects of selective ligands of specific mGluRs in ameliorating innate or pharmacologically-induced deficits in social interaction and social memory as well as in reducing aggression in rodents. We emphasize the importance of future studies investigating the role of selective mGluR ligands on different types of social behavior to provide a better understanding of the neural mechanisms involved which, in turn, might promote the development of selective mGluR-targeted tools for the improved treatment of psychiatric disorders associated with social deficits.
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