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Curr Opin Psychol. 2017 Jun;15:26-32. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.02.013. Epub 2017 Feb 20.

The neurobiology of fatherhood.

Author information

1
Department of Anthropology, Emory University, 207 Anthropology Building, 1557 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, 1639 Pierce Drive, Suite 4000, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA; Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Emory University, PO Box 3966, Atlanta, Georgia 30302, USA; Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, Emory University, USA. Electronic address: jrillin@emory.edu.
2
Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, Emory University, USA; Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, 1841 Clifton Road NE, Rm 507, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.

Abstract

Only about 5% of mammalian species exhibit paternal caregiving in nature, and paternal behavior has evolved multiple times independently among mammals. The most parsimonious way to evolve paternal behavior may be to utilize pre-existing neural systems that are in place for maternal behavior. Despite evidence for similarity in the neurobiology of maternal and paternal behavior in rodents, paternal behavior also has its own dedicated neural circuitry in some species. Human fathers engage conserved subcortical systems that motivate caregiving in rodent parents and human mothers, as well as cortical systems involved with empathy that they share with human mothers. Finally, paternal behavior is modulated by similar hormones and neuropeptides in rodents, non-human primates, and humans.

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