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Motherless rats show deficits in maternal behavior towards fostered pups

Motherless rats show deficits in maternal behavior towards fostered pups

Developmental Psychobiology 52(2): 142-148

Complete maternal deprivation in rats, through artificial rearing (AR), produces deficits in subsequent maternal behavior of the offspring. These deficits are partially reversed when isolated pups are provided with additional tactile stimulation designed to simulate maternal licking (e.g., Gonzalez et al. [2001] Developmental Psychobiology, 38, 11-32). These findings highlight the importance of the early maternal environment in subsequent development. However, given the possibility that prenatal environments may differ between AR and maternally reared (MR) offspring, the deficits in the behavior of AR mothers may be driven by the characteristics of their pups derived from the effects of an altered prenatal environment. Hence differences in the neonatal pups of AR mothers may produce the alterations in the AR maternal behavior. To rule out this possibility, we employed a fostering paradigm where AR and MR mothers received cross-fostered mother-reared pups. AR mothers showed the same level of deficits in maternal behavior towards MR foster pups as they do with their own pups and these deficits were partially reversed with additional tactile stimulation. Hence, maternal behavior deficits reported in mothers who had been reared in isolation are due primarily to the direct effects of the earlier experience on mechanisms regulating their maternal behavior and not to the effects on their offspring.

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Accession: 054473758

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 20108247

DOI: 10.1002/dev.20422

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