Brief pup exposure induces Fos expression in the lateral habenula and serotonergic caudal dorsal raphe nucleus of paternally experienced male California mice (Peromyscus californicus)

T. R. de Jong, K. R. Measor, M. Chauke, B. N. Harris, W. Saltzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fathers play a substantial role in infant care in a small but significant number of mammalian species, including humans. However, the neural circuitry controlling paternal behavior is much less understood than its female counterpart. In order to characterize brain areas activated by paternal care, male California mice were separated from their female mate and litter for 3 h and then exposed to a pup or a control object (a glass pebble with the approximate size and oblong shape of a newborn pup) for 10 min. All males receiving a pup showed a strong paternal response towards it, whereas males receiving a pebble interacted with it only occasionally. Despite the clear behavioral differences, exposure to a pup did not increase Fos-like immunoreactivity (Fos-LIR) compared to a pebble in brain areas previously found to be associated with parental care, including the medial preoptic nucleus and medial bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Pup exposure did, however, significantly increase Fos-LIR in the lateral habenula (LHb) and in predominantly serotonergic neurons in the caudal dorsal raphe nucleus (DRC), as compared to pebble exposure. Both the LHb and DRC are known to be involved in the behavioral responses to strong emotional stimuli; therefore, these areas might play a role in controlling parental behavior in male California mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1094-1104
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroscience
Volume169
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2010

Keywords

  • Caudal dorsal raphe
  • Fos
  • Lateral habenula
  • Paternal care
  • Serotonin (5-HT)

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