Neuroanatomical basis of maternal memory in postpartum rats: Selective role for the nucleus accumbens

Anna Lee, Ming Li, Jason Watchus, Alison S. Fleming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The experience of interacting with pups causes long-term changes in mothers' brains that mediate long-term changes in maternal behavior. As little as 1 hr of pup experience postpartum results in enhanced maternal responses to pups 10 days later. This experiment investigated the effects of lesions in multiple neural sites that have been implicated either in the actual expression of maternal behavior or in learning and memory within other behavioral contexts on the initiation and the long-term experience-based retention of maternal behavior. Electrolytic lesions were performed either before or after a 1-hr or 24-hr maternal experience. Rats sustaining lesions of the nucleus accumbens (NACC), whether administered before parturition and experience or immediately after a brief experience, failed to show a maternal experience effect. NACC lesions sustained 24 hr after a maternal experience did not disrupt long-term retention of the maternal behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-538
Number of pages16
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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