Humans, like many mammals, are an intensely social species. We experience social interactions as rewarding from infancy, and the social cognitive skills we develop in the context of our earliest interpersonal attachments are critical for survival, group cooperation, and personal wellbeing. Disruption of close relationships (e.g., social isolation or loss of a loved one), is a significant risk factor for stress-related mood and anxiety disorders. Social cognition abnormalities are also a hallmark of many brain disorders, and in several disorders, like autism, impaired social functioning is the core symptom. A central goal of the Parker Lab is to better understand the biology of typical and atypical social functioning across a range of species, and to translate these fundamental insights to drive development of novel diagnostic tools to detect, and precision therapeutics to treat, social deficits in patients. Our current research studies are summarized below.