Neuroendocrinology of coping styles: towards understanding the biology of individual variation

JM Koolhaas, SF de Boer, CM Coppens, B Buwalda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Individual variation in behavior and physiology is a widespread and ecologically functional phenomenon in nature in virtually all vertebrate species. Due to domestication of laboratory animals, studies may suffer from a strong selection bias. This paper summarizes behavioral, neuroendocrine and neurobiological studies using the natural individual variation in rats and mice. Individual behavioral characteristics appear to be consistent over time and across situations. The individual variation has at least two dimensions in which the quality of the response to a challenging condition (coping style) is independent from the quantity of that response (stress reactivity). The neurobiology reveals important differences in the homeostatic control of the serotonergic neuron and the neuropeptides vasopressin and oxytocin in relation to coping style. It is argued that a careful exploitation of the broad natural and biologically functional individual variation in behavior and physiology may help in developing better animal models for understanding individual disease vulnerability.

Translated title of the contributionNeuroendocrinologie van copingstijlen: naar het begrijpen van de biologie van individuele variatie
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-321
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • adaptation, psychological/physiology
  • animal personality
  • humans
  • individuality
  • mice
  • models, biological
  • neurobiology
  • neuroendocrinology
  • neurosecretory systems/physiology
  • rats
  • individual differences
  • serotonine
  • vasopressine
  • catecholaminen
  • gonade steroïden
  • coping style
  • HPA axis


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuroendocrinology of coping styles: towards understanding the biology of individual variation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this