Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Becoming a parent: Brain changes that underlie transition from aggressive to parental behavior in male mice described

Date:
March 19, 2013
Source:
Society for Neuroscience (SfN)
Summary:
Sexually nave male mice respond differently to the chemical signals emitted by newborn pups than males that have mated and lived with pregnant females, according to a new study. The findings may help scientists to better understand the changes that take place in the brains of some mammals during the transition into parenthood.

Sexually nave male mice respond differently to the chemical signals emitted by newborn pups than males that have mated and lived with pregnant females, according to a study published March 20 in The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings may help scientists to better understand the changes that take place in the brains of some mammals during the transition into parenthood.

Sex differences in the behaviors mice display toward newborn pups are well documented. While virgin female mice routinely provide parental care to pups upon first encounter, sexually nave males react to pups with aggression, sometimes attacking and killing them. Previous studies have shown that male mice that have mated and lived with pregnant females ("fathers") will display parental behaviors similar to females when exposed to infants (such as gathering and grooming mice), even when the offspring are not their own.

In order to better understand the brain mechanisms underlying the transition from aggressive to parental behavior, Kashiko Tachikawa, PhD, and colleagues at RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan compared cellular activity in the brains of sexually nave male mice to fathers following exposure to pups. Pup exposure led to greater activation of nerve cells in the vomeronasal organ (VNO) -- a specialized sensory organ in the nose that detects pheromones -- and connected brain regions involved in processing emotional information in the sexually nave male mice compared with fathers.

"The findings suggest that when a male mouse experiences fatherhood, specific physiological events in the brain compel him to nurture young pups," said Garet Lahvis, PhD, who studies the social behavior of juvenile mice at Oregon Health and Science University and was not involved in the study. "These experiments suggest that the mammalian male brain is not simply hardwired for competition but flexibly wired to nurture," he added.

Additional tests suggested that suppressing the response of the VNO to pup pheromones may influence the behavioral transition from attack to parenting in sexually nave male mice. When the researchers removed the VNO in those males, they found that they stopped their aggressive behavior and instead displayed parental behaviors toward the pups. Removing the VNO in the fathers had no effect on the parental behaviors displayed toward pups.

"Our study is the first to suggest that the chemical cues received by the vomeronasal organ evoke aggressive behavior toward pups in sexually-nave male mice but not in fathers," Tachikawa said.

Although she cautioned it is not possible to draw direct parallels to human behavior based on the results of the study, Tachikawa noted that "the findings may someday pave the way toward understanding the brain mechanisms responsible for paternal behavior common to other mammals."

This research was funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Neuroscience (SfN). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. S. Tachikawa, Y. Yoshihara, K. O. Kuroda. Behavioral Transition from Attack to Parenting in Male Mice: A Crucial Role of the Vomeronasal System. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (12): 5120 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2364-12.2013

Cite This Page:

Society for Neuroscience (SfN). "Becoming a parent: Brain changes that underlie transition from aggressive to parental behavior in male mice described." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319202043.htm>.
Society for Neuroscience (SfN). (2013, March 19). Becoming a parent: Brain changes that underlie transition from aggressive to parental behavior in male mice described. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319202043.htm
Society for Neuroscience (SfN). "Becoming a parent: Brain changes that underlie transition from aggressive to parental behavior in male mice described." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319202043.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another —has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins