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Nature. 2018 Apr;556(7701):326-331. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0027-0. Epub 2018 Apr 11.

Functional circuit architecture underlying parental behaviour.

Author information

1
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.
2
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.
3
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.
4
Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
5
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
6
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA. dulac@fas.harvard.edu.

Abstract

Parenting is essential for the survival and wellbeing of mammalian offspring. However, we lack a circuit-level understanding of how distinct components of this behaviour are coordinated. Here we investigate how galanin-expressing neurons in the medial preoptic area (MPOAGal) of the hypothalamus coordinate motor, motivational, hormonal and social aspects of parenting in mice. These neurons integrate inputs from a large number of brain areas and the activation of these inputs depends on the animal's sex and reproductive state. Subsets of MPOAGal neurons form discrete pools that are defined by their projection sites. While the MPOAGal population is active during all episodes of parental behaviour, individual pools are tuned to characteristic aspects of parenting. Optogenetic manipulation of MPOAGal projections mirrors this specificity, affecting discrete parenting components. This functional organization, reminiscent of the control of motor sequences by pools of spinal cord neurons, provides a new model for how discrete elements of a social behaviour are generated at the circuit level.

PMID:
29643503
PMCID:
PMC5908752
DOI:
10.1038/s41586-018-0027-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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