Projects
Name
Neurobiology of maternal behavior. Neuroanatomy and neurochemistry of motivated maternal care
University
Spain (IFMSA Spain) - University of Castellon, Castellon
Domain
Neurobiology
Departement
Unitat Predepartamental of Medicine
Head
Juan Vicente Sanchez Andres
Tutor
Ferran Martinez Garcia, Hugo Salais Lopez
Languages
English, French, Italian, Spanish
Duration
4 weeks
Availability
Cities/Months Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Augt Sep Oct Nov Dec
No No No No No No yes No No No No No
Type of Research Project
- Basic science
What is the background of the project?
Maternal behavior is a social behavior fundamental not just for offspring survival but also for its correct development and future (mental) health. Using mice as experimental animals, we are analyzing the cerebral circuits involved in the generation of this behavior, which involves an increased motivation for the pups and a devoted care for them. We are studying the stimuli involved in pup detection, the neural pathways activated by them and the neural centers related to the expression of pup care and nest defense. This is important since the altered responses of such neuroendocrine agents are likely at the basis of pathological conditions of motherhood with a dramatic impact in the baby’s health such as maternal depression or anxiety. The project aims at clarifying the hormones acting during pregnancy, delivery and lactation, to transform the female’s social brain into a truly maternal brain. This include analyzing the changes that these hormones produce on specific the neurotransmitter systems (e.g. the nonapeptides oxytocin and vasopressin) that are known to be engaged in the expression of maternal behaviors and are likely to be changing during motherhood. We are using a mixture of techniques and methods that the student might become familiar with during his/her stay: • Analysis of behavior • Brain histology, including histochemistry and immunocytochemistry • Microscopy, both regular and confocal • Image analysis and quantification • Analysis of gene expression using qRT-PCR (Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction).
What is the aim of the project?
Clarifying the hormones acting during pregnancy, delivery and lactation, to transform the female’s social brain into a truly maternal brain. This include analyzing the changes that these hormones produce on specific the neurotransmitter systems (e.g. the nonapeptides oxytocin and vasopressin) that are known to be engaged in the expression of maternal behaviors and are likely to be changing during motherhood.
What techniques and methods are used?
We are using a mixture of techniques and methods that the student might become familiar with during his/her stay: • Analysis of behavior • Brain histology, including histochemistry and immunocytochemistry • Microscopy, both regular and confocal • Image analysis and quantification • Analysis of gene expression using qRT-PCR (Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction).
What is the role of the student?
- The tasks will be done under supervision
- If the project includes “lab work”
- the student will take active part in the practical aspect of the project
What are the tasks expected to be accomplished by the student?
The student will be integrated to the laboratory work and in the different techniques that are used in this project.
Will there be any theoretical teaching provided (preliminary readings, lectures, courses, seminars etc)
No
What is expected from the student at the end of the research exchange? What will be the general outcome of the student?
- No specific outcome is expected
What skills are required of the student? Is there any special knowledge or a certain level of studies needed?
The student should have studied some physiology and histology. There is no need of any previous technical knowledge or skill. It would be advisable that contact with me before, either by phone or Skype. But it is not strictly needed.
Are there any legal limitations in the student’s involvement
No
Hours
6
Type of students accepted
This project accepts:
- Medical students
- Graduated students (less than 6 months)
Articles
- Martin-Sanchez A; McLean L; Beynon RJ; Hurst JL; Ayala G; Lanuza E; Martinez-Garcia F. 2015. From sexual attraction to maternal aggression: when pheromones change their behavioural significance. Horm Behav. 68:65-76. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2014.08.007.