Constructing a Paternal Brain
Mr. Moms: California Deer Mice Deadbeat dads: Common deer mice
Although both species of mice will harm pups (infanticide) prior to paternal experience, thecalifornia mice become more nurturing with pup exposure whereas the common deer miceshow no changes in nurturing behaviors toward
pups. In this particular study we staged “familyreunions” in which the males were separated from their families or cage
-mates (depending onthe group) and reunited with the pups after 24 hours. California mice with paternalexperience increased their attention toward the pups.
Behavior ChangesBrain Changes in Social Hormone Circuits
Even before pup exposure, california mice have more brain cells responsive to two socialneuropeptides [oxytocin (left) and vasopressin (right)] than common deer mice. The moredramatic increases in vasopressin suggest that this neuropeptide is especially relevant forpaternal responses
Brain Changes in Learning Circuits
NEUROPLASTICITY: The yellow dots represent new cells born in an area of the brain involved in learning andmemory known as the hippocampus; pup-exposed/foster dads had more than virgins and biological fathers.
It is thought that the biological fathers may have had new cells generated during his mate’s pregnancy.
ACTIVATED LEARNING CIRCUITS: When performing a learning task, more cells in thehippocampus are activated in the dads. Dark spots indicate activated cells
Grooming pup (left); crouching over pup (right)Avoiding pup (left); cautiously approaching pup (right)Oxytocin-responsive cell bodies and fibers in californiadeer mouse (left) and common deer mouse (right)Vasopressin-responsive cell bodies and fibers in californiadeer mouse (left) and common deer mouse (right)