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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Faculty & Research

Faculty Profile

Sue Carter

Photo of Sue Carter
Rudy Professor of Biology, Director of The Kinsey Institute
Contact Information
By telephone: (812) 855-7686
Morrison Hall 313

The Kinsey Institute

Evolution, Ecology & Behavior

Ph.D., University of Arkansas
B.A., Drury College, Springfield, MO

  • Wayner-NNOXe Pharmaceutical Award for Translational Research, awarded by the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, 2009
  • President, International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, 2004-2005
  • J. W. Fulbright, College of Arts and Sciences, Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 2001
Research Description

Carter studies social bonding, male and female parental behavior, the social control of stress reactivity and the social control of reproduction, often using animal models such as the socially monogamous prairie vole. Carter’s research focuses on neuropeptide and steroid hormones, including oxytocin, vasopressin, corticotropin-releasing hormone, and estrogen. Her research program has discovered important new developmental functions for oxytocin and vasopressin, and implicated these hormones in the regulation of long-lasting neural and effects of early social experiences. She also has a long-standing concern regarding the consequences of medical manipulations for human development and parent-child interactions, including the use of “pitocin” to induce labor and consequences of breast feeding for the mother and child. 

Most recently she has been examining the role of oxytocin and vasopressin in mental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, anxiety and depression. Carter is also known for research on the physiological basis of social behavior, including studies that implicated oxytocin, vasopressin and hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (“stress”) axis in the traits of monogamy including pair-bond formation.[5] She pioneered the physiological study of socially monogamous mammals, including the prairie vole.

Select Publications

Carter, C.S. 2014. Oxytocin pathways and the evolution of human behavior. Annual Review of Psychology 65:17-39.

Prevost, M., Zelkowitz, P., Tulandi, T., Hayton, B., Feeley, N., Carter, C.S., Joseph, L., Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H., Yong, E.Y. Abenhaim, H., & Gold, I. 2014. Oxytocin in pregnancy and the postpartum: relations to labor and its management. Frontiers in Public Health Jan 27;2:1. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2014.00001.

Prevost M, Zelkowitz P, Tulandi T, Hayton B, Feeley N, Carter CS, Joseph L, Pournajafi-Nazarloo H, Yong Ping E, Abenhaim H and Gold I. 2014. Oxytocin in pregnancy and the postpartum: relations to labor and its management. Front. Public Health 2:1.

Kenkel, W.M., Yee, J.R., & Carter, C.S. 2014. Is oxytocin a maternal foetal signaling molecule at birth? Implications for development. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 26: 739-749.

Rubin, L.H., Carter, C.S., Bishop, J.R., Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H., Harris, M.S.H., Hill, S.K., Reilly, J.L., & Sweeney, J.A. 2013. Peripheral vasopressin but not oxytocin relates to severity of acute psychosis in women with acutely-ill untreated first-episode psychosis. Schizophrenia Research 146: 138-143.

Carter, C.S. & Porges, S.W. 2013. The biochemistry of love: An oxytocin hypothesis. EMBO Reports, 14: 12-16.

Kenkel, W.M., Paredes, J., Lewis, G.F., Yee, J.R., Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H., Grippo, A.J., Porges, S.W., & Carter, C.S. 2013. Autonomic substrates of the response to pups in male prairie voles. PlosOne Aug 5;8(8):e69965. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069965.

Rault, Jean-Loup, Carter, C Sue, Garner, Joseph P, Marchant-Forde, Jeremy N, Richert, Brian T, and Lay, Donald C. 2013. Repeated intranasal oxytocin administration in early life dysregulates the HPA axis and alters social behavior. Physiology & Behavior. 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.02.007
Carter, C Sue, and Porges, Stephen W. 2013. The biochemistry of love: an oxytocin hypothesis. EMBO Reports. 2013; 14(1).
Gouin, Jean-Philippe, Carter, C Sue, Pournajafi-Nazarloo, Hossein, Malarkey, William B, Loving, Timothy J, Stowell, Jeffrey, and Kiecolt-Glaser, Janice K. 2012. Plasma vasopressin and interpersonal functioning. Biological Psychology. 2012; 91(2).

Kenkel, W., Paredes, J. Yee, J.R., Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H., Bales, K.L., & Carter, C.S. 2012. Exposure to an infant releases oxytocin and facilitates pair-bonding in male prairie voles.  Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 24:874-886.

Dai, L., Carter, C.S., Ying, J. Bellugi, U., Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H., & Korenberg, J.R.  2012. Oxytocin and vasopressin are dysregulated in Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting social behavior.  PLoS One, 7(6):e38513.

Carter, C Sue, and Porges, Eric C. 2011. Parenthood, stress, and the brain. Biological Psychiatry. 2011; 70(9).

Carter, C.S. & Porges, E.C. 2011. Parenthood, stress and the brain.  Biological Psychiatry 70: 804-805.

Carter C.S., Grippo A.J., Pournajafi-Nazarloo H., Ruscio M.G., Porges S.W. 2008. Oxytocin, vasopressin and social behavior. Progress in Brain Research 170: 331–336.
Carter C.S., Ahnert L., Grossmann K., Hardy S.B., Lamb M., Porges S.W., & Sachser N. (eds.). 2005. Attachment and Bonding: A New Synthesis. MIT Press, Cambridge MA.

Carter, C. S.  1998.  Neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love. Psychoneuro-endocrinology, 23, 779-818.

Williams, J. R., Insel, T. R., Harbaugh, C. R., & Carter, C. S. 1994.  Oxytocin administered centrally facilitates formation of a partner preference in female prairie voles.  Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 6, 247-250.

Carter, C. S., & Getz, L. L. 1993.  Monogamy and the prairie vole.  Scientific American, 268, 100-106.

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