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Behav Neurosci. 1990 Dec;104(6):964-79.

Dorsolateral connections of the medial preoptic area and maternal behavior in rats.

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Department of Psychology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02167.


The lateral connections of the medial preoptic area (MPOA) are essential for maternal behavior in rats. The purpose of this study was to more exactly specify the nature of this pathway. Experiment 1 found that knife cuts that severed the dorsolateral connections of the MPOA were as effective as complete cuts in disrupting maternal behavior, whereas knife cuts that severed the ventrolateral MPOA connections were ineffective. These results suggest that MPOA efferents and afferents critical for maternal behavior leave or enter the MPOA dorsolaterally. Experiment 2 located possible sources of critical afferent input. Lactating rats received MPOA lateral cuts with a horseradish peroxidase (HRP)-coated wire knife. Full lateral cuts and dorsolateral cuts disrupted maternal behavior and labeled more cells with HRP in the nucleus of the solitary tract and the locus coeruleus than did ventrolateral cuts, which did not disrupt maternal behavior.

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