Social dominance in monkeys: dopamine D2 receptors and cocaine self-administration (2002)

COMMENTS: Social dominance increases dopamine D2 receptors in primates. Dominant male behaviors are thought to be related to this increase in dopamine signaling. Addictions cause a decline in D2 receptors. Could the benefits (confidence, sociability, motivation, less anxiety) men feel as they recover from porn addiction be related to an increase in D2 receptors an dopamine?

Nat Neurosci. 2002 Feb;5(2):169-74.

Morgan D, Grant KA, Gage HD, Mach RH, Kaplan JR, Prioleau O, Nader SH, Buchheimer N, Ehrenkaufer RL, Nader MA.


Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, USA.


Disruption of the dopaminergic system has been implicated in the etiology of many pathological conditions, including drug addiction. Here we used positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to study brain dopaminergic function in individually housed and in socially housed cynomolgus macaques (n = 20). Whereas the monkeys did not differ during individual housing, social housing increased the amount or availability of dopamine D2 receptors in dominant monkeys and produced no change in subordinate monkeys. These neurobiological changes had an important behavioral influence as demonstrated by the finding that cocaine functioned as a reinforcer in subordinate but not dominant monkeys. These data demonstrate that alterations in an organism’s environment can produce profound biological changes that have important behavioral associations, including vulnerability to cocaine addiction.