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Neural pathway to parenthood
Date:5/15/2014

lac said, also opens the door to a greater understanding of how that behavior can break down, and potentially lead to conditions like post-partum depression.

"It is known that post-partum depression has a very close association with stress levels, particularly among first-time mothers," Dulac said. "One interesting hypothesis is that these galanin neurons in the MPOA have stress hormone receptors that can inhibit their function. These are the type of questions we can now address directly, because we know which neurons are controlling parental behavior."

Understanding how galanin neurons are connected to brain centers involved in motivation, stress and reward, how and whether genes associated with the neurons are expressed differently in males and females, what is happening in male brains in the three weeks after mating all are questions that demand further study, Dulac said.

"Parental behavior is many things," Dulac said. "It's grooming, it's building a nest, it's protecting the pups the male is able to do all of those. What this says is that in the male brain, they have the neurons to be paternal, but somehow those neurons are repressed. But we can now say, yes, dads can do it."


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Contact: Peter Reuell
preuell@fas.harvard.edu
617-496-8070
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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