Beyond its well-known role in reproduction, the hypothalamic neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) has been implicated in a broad spectrum of social and nonsocial behaviors. The biological actions of OXT are exerted through specific OXT receptors (OXTR) that belong to the family of G protein-coupled receptors. OXTR is abundantly expressed in the hippocampus, and the past decade has witnessed tremendous progress in our understanding of the physiological significance of hippocampal OXTR signaling. In this review, we mainly focus on recent progress made in identifying the role of hippocampal OXTR signaling in regulating neuronal excitability, network oscillatory activity, synaptic plasticity and social recognition memory. We also discuss recent insights into the cellular mechanisms underlying these processes regulated by OXTR signaling. Finally, we discuss the remaining questions for future research. A full understanding of the functional role of hippocampal OXTR signaling may lead to targeted new therapies for social cognition deficits, often observed in patients with autism and other neuropsychiatric disorders.
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