Some Mechanisms Governing the Induction, Maintenance, and Synchrony of Maternal Behavior in the Laboratory Rat

  • Howard Moltz
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 11)


As long ago as 1925, Stone advanced the hypothesis that the endocrine changes accompanying the termination of pregnancy underlie the onset of maternal behavior in the rat. In a sense, this is an obvious assumption because such maternal activities as nursing, nest building, and retrieving are initiated in close temporal association with the birth process. However, more than 40 years elapsed before Stone’s hypothesis was actually demonstrated and before some of the endocrine agents responsible for the induction of maternal behavior were finally identified. Specifically, these agents include progesterone, estrogen, and prolactin.


Maternal Behavior Ergot Alkaloid Nest Building Medial Preoptic Area Nulliparous Female 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Amenomori, Y., Chen, C.L., and Meites, J., 1970, Serum prolactin levels in rats during different reproductive states, Endocrinology 70:506–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beach, F.A., and Jaynes, J., 1956, Studies of maternal retrieving in rats, II. Effects of practice and previous parturitions, Amer. Naturalist 90:103–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ben-David, M., 1968, Mechanism of induction of mammary differentiation in Sprague-Dawley rats by perphenazine, Endocrinology 83:1217–1223.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ben-David, M., Dikstein, S., and Sulman, F.G., 1965, Production of lactation by non-sedative phenothiazine derivatives, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 118:265–270.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bruce, H.M., 1961, Observations on the suckling stimulus and lactation in the rat, J. Reprod. Fertil. 2:17–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Calhoun, J.B., 1962, The Ecology and Sociology of the Norway Rat, Public Health Service Pub. No. 1008, U. S. Public Health Service, Bethesda, Md.Google Scholar
  7. Dilley, W.G., and Adler, N.T., 1968, Postcopulatory mammary gland secretion in rats, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 129:964–967.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Doyle, C., Shimuzu, A., and Himwich, H.E., 1968, Effects of chronic administration of some psychoactive drugs on EEG arousal on rabbit, Int. J. Neuropharm. 7:87–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eisenfeld, A.J., and Axelrod, J., 1965, Selectivity of estrogen distributions in tissues, J. Pharm. Exp. Ther. 150:469–475.Google Scholar
  10. Eisenfeld, A.J., and Axelrod, J., 1966, Effect of steroid hormones, ovariectomy, estrogen pre-treatment, sex and immaturity on the distribution of 3H-estradiol, Endocrinology 79:38–42.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eto, T., Masuda, H., Suzuki, Y., and Hsai, T., 1962, Progesterone and pregn-4-en-20α-ol-3-one in rat ovarian venous blood at different stages in the reproductive cycle, Jap. J. Anim. Reprod. 8:34–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fajer, A.B., and Barraclough, C.A., 1967, Ovarian secretion of progesterone and 20α-hydroxy-pregn-4-en-3-one during pseudo-pregnancy in rats, Endocrinology 81:617–622.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Grindeland, R.E., McCulloch, W.A., and Ellis, S., 1969, Radioimmunoassay of rat prolactin (Unpub. paper, 51st meeting, Endocrine Soc, New York, June, 1969).Google Scholar
  14. Grota, L.J., and Eik-Nes, K.B., 1967, Plasma progesterone concentrations during pregnancy and lactation in the rat, J. Reprod. Fertil. 13:83–91.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grosvenor, C.E., 1965, Evidence that exteroceptive stimuli can release prolactin from the pituitary gland of the lactating rat, Endocrinology 76:340–342.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hamburg, D., 1966, Effects of progesterone on behavior, in Endocrines and the Central Nervous System (R. Levine, ed.), pp.251–263, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  17. Hashimoto, I., Henricks, D.M., Anderson, L.L., and Melampy, R.M., 1968, Progesterone and pregn-4-en-20α-ol-3-one in ovarian venous blood during various reproductive stages in the rat, Endocrinology 82:333–341.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heimer, L., and Nauta, W.J.H., 1969, The hypothalamic distribution of the stria terminalis in the rat, Brain Res. 13:284–297.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kawakami, M., and Sawyer, C.H., 1959, Neuroendocrine correlates of changes in brain activity thresholds by sex steroids and pituitary hormones, Endocrinology 65:652–668.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kuhn, N.J., 1968, Lactogenesis in the rat. Metabolism of uridine diphosphate galactose by mammary gland, Biochem. J. 106:743–748.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Kuhn, N.J., 1969, Progesterone withdrawal as the lactogenic trigger in the rat, J. Endocrinol. 44:39–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kuhn, N.J., and Lowenstein, J.M., 1967, Lactogenesis in the rat. Changes in metabolic parameters at parturition, Biochem. J. 105:995–1002.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Kwa, H.G., and Verhofstad, F., 1967, Prolactin levels in the plasma of female rats, J. Endocrinol. 39:455–456.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lehrman, D.S., 1961, Hormonal regulation of parental behavior in birds and infra-human mammals, in Sex and Internal Secretions, 3rd ed. (W.C. Young, Ed.), Vol. 2, pp. 1268–1382, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  25. Leon, M., and Moltz, H., 1971, Maternal pheromone: Discrimination by pre-weanling albino rats, Physiol. Behav. 7:265–267.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Leon, M., and Moltz, H., 1972, The development of the pheromonal bond in the albino rat, Physiol. Behav. 8:683–688.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lu, R.H., Koch, F., and Meites, J., 1971, Direct inhibition by ergocornine of pituitary prolactin release, Endocrinology 89:229–233.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lumas, K.R., and Farooq, A., 1966, The uptake in vivo of 1, 2 – 3H progesterone by the brain and genital tract of the rat, J. Endocrinol. 36:95–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Moltz, H., and Leon, M., 1973, Stimulus control of the maternal pheromone, Physiol. Behav. 10:69–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Moltz, H., and Robbins, D., 1965, Maternal behavior of primiparous and multiparous rats, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 60:417–421.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Moltz, H., and Wiener, E., 1966, Effects of ovariectomy on maternal behavior of primiparous and multiparous rats, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 62:382–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Moltz, H., Geller, D., and Levin, M., 1967, Maternal behavior in the totally mammectomized rat, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 64:225–229.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Moltz, H., Leidahl, L., and Rowland, R., 1974, Prolongation of pheromonal emission in the maternal rat, Physiol. Behav. (in press).Google Scholar
  34. Moltz, H., Leon, M., Numan, M., and Lubin, M., 1971, Replacement of progesterone with a phenothiazine in the induction of maternal behavior in the ovariectomized nulliparous rat, Physiol. Behav. 6:735–737.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Moltz, H., Levin, R., and Leon, M., 1969a, Differential effects of progesterone on the maternal behavior of primiparous and multiparous rats, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 67:36–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Moltz, H., Levin, R., and Leon, M., 1969b, Prolactin in the postpartum rat: Synthesis and release in the absence of suckling stimulation, Science 163:1083–1084.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Moltz, H., Lubin, M., Leon, M., and Numan, M., 1970, Hormonal induction of maternal behavior in the ovariectomized nulliparous rat, Physiol. Behav. 5:1373–1377.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nauta, W.J.H., 1956, An experimental study of the fornix in the rat, J. Comp. Neurol. 104:247–273.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nicoll, C.S., and Meites, J., 1959, Prolongation of lactation in the rat by litter replacement, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 101:81–82.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Numan, M., 1973, The role of the medial preoptic area in the regulation of maternal behavior (Unpub. Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Chicago).Google Scholar
  41. Numan, M., Leon, M., and Moltz, H., 1972, Interference with prolactin release and the maternal behavior of female rats, Horm. Behav. 2:29–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pasteels, J.L., and Ectors, F., 1970, Mode d’action de l’ergocor-nine sur la secretion de prolactine, Arch. Int. Pharm. Ther. 186:195–196.Google Scholar
  43. Pfaff, D.W., 1965, Cerebral implantation and autoradiographic studies of sex hormones, in Sex Research: New Developments (J. Money, ed.), pp.219–234, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  44. Pfaff, D.W., 1968, Uptake of 3H-estradiol by the female rat brain:An autoradiographic study, Endocrinology 82:1149–1155.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Raisinghani, K.H., Dorfman, R.I., Forchielli, E., Gyermek, L., and Genther, C., 1968, Uptake of intravenously administered progesterone, pregnanedione, and pregnanolone by the rat brain, Acta Endocrin. (Copenhagen) 57:395–404.Google Scholar
  46. Rosenblatt, J.S., 1965, The basis of synchrony in the behavioral interaction between the mother and her offspring in the laboratory rat, in Determinants of Infant Behavior, (B.M. Foss, ed.), Vol. 3, pp.3–41, John Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  47. Rosenblatt, J.S., 1969, The development of maternal responsiveness in the rat, Amer. J. Orthopsychiat. 39:3–45.Google Scholar
  48. Rosenblatt, J.S., and Lehrman, D.S., 1963, Maternal behavior in the laboratory rat, in Maternal Behavior in Mammals (H. Rheingold, ed.), pp.8–58, John Wiley & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  49. Sar, M., and Meites, J., 1969, Effects of suckling on pituitary release of prolactin, GH, and TSH in postpartum lactating rats, Neuroendocrin. 4:25–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Shinde, Y., Ota, K., and Yokoyama, A., 1964, Lactose content of mammary glands of pregnant rats near term: Effect of removal of ovary, placenta, and foetus, J. Endocrinol. 31105–114.Google Scholar
  51. Stone, C.P., 1925, Preliminary note on maternal behavior of rats living in parabiosis, Endocrinology 9:505–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Stumpf, W.E., 1968, Estradiol-concentrating neurons: Typography in the hypothalamus by dry-mount autoradiography, Science 162:1001–1003.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Thoman, E.B., and Levine, S., 1970, Effects of adrenalectomy on maternal behavior in rats, Devel. Psychobiol. 3:237–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wiesner, B.P., and Sheard, N.M., 1933, Maternal Behaviour in the Rat, Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  55. Wiest, W.G., 1968, On the function of 20α-hydroxypregn-4-en-3-one during parturition in the rat, Endocrinology 83:1181–1184.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wiest, W.G., Kidwell, W.R., and Balogh, K., 1968, Progesterone catabolism in the rat ovary: A regulatory mechanism for progestational potency during pregnancy, Endocrinology 82:844–860.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wuttke, W., Cassell, E., and Meites, J., 1971, Effects of ergocornine on serum prolactin and LH, and on hypothalamic content of PIF and LRF, Endocrinology 88:737–741.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Yoshinga, K., Hawkins, R.A., and Stocker, J.F., 1969, Estrogen secretion by the rat ovary in vivo during the estrous cycle and pregnancy, Endocrinology 85:103–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard Moltz
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of ChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations