Defining the neural basis for the negative regulation of parental behavior


April 27, 2016 - 1:00pm
Northwest 243
About the Speaker
Anita Autry (Dulac Lab)

Protection and feeding of young animals is essential for survival. In mammals, parental care typically falls to the mother and females are often spontaneously maternal. In contrast, males show varying levels of parental interactions ranging from attack or neglect to full parenting of offspring. In mice, paternal care requires facilitation: virgin males typically attack pups, becoming paternal only after mating. Males display parental behavior around 12-18 days after mating. This switch in the social behavior of male mice toward pups provides a unique paradigm in which to study cellular mechanisms underlying opposing social responses to pups. The brain areas involved in these social responses toward pups are poorly studied, though our lab has recently uncovered the critical role of galanin-expressing neurons of the medial preoptic area in the positive regulation of parental behavior. My project aims to define neural populations involved in the negative regulation of parental behavior toward pups and to understand physiological and environmental factors influencing this behavior.