In rats (Rattus) it appears that maternal behaviors can affect her pups developmental behavior and endocrine physiology. In unfavorable environmental stressor the brain and body will release signals and hormones to try to maintain the body’s homeostatic conditions 1. The system that is responsible for the direct regulation of stress and therefore the indirect maternal response is the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA axis). The hypothalamus controls the secretion of corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), which triggers the release of ACTH from the anterior pituitary, and then stimulates secretion by the adrenal cortex of glucocorticoid hormones, specifically cortisol1. The focus of this report is the role of maternal (rattus) behaviors on pups learning, memory and behavior.
The rat pups are born into a litter with their eyes and ears seal with many offspring and single parent 2. The events in the nest and the pup’s reaction to these events provide a rich stimulus environment that shapes early development and later social behaviors 2. Maternal rat behaviors include pup licking, grooming and arched back nursing (LG-ABN) 2, 3, 4. To examine the effects of maternal behavior on her pups this report will examine the influence of environmental factors that may facilitate social learning in pups. These environmental factors may adversely lead to changes in genes expression and neural system developments in pups and evidently effect how the pups treat their subsequent generations.
Environmental factors can lead to changes in maternal behaviors. A recent study conducted by Macri and Wurbel in 2007 tested how different accessibilities of food affects the maternal behavior in rattus up until postnatal day 8 3. The rats were divided into two cages: nest cage (NC) and exploration cages (EC). Dams were received food ad libitum either the NC or the EC, to mimic moderate environmental conditions (comparable to early handling) or they were under restrictive conditions (nine 30-minute periods) ad libitum to mimic more severe environmental conditions (comparable to maternal separation) 3. NC- fed dams was allowed to move freely in the system 3. The experiment explored active (high, low, partial kyphosis) and passive nursing (prone nursing, licking and grooming). The results indicated that NC-fed dams showed higher levels of active maternal behavior, while intermittently (IEC)- fed dams showed more passive behaviors 3. It can be implied that the environmental stress induced by the unfamiliar environment in the cages affected material behaviors without inducing changes in the HPA axis. Nonetheless, maternal environment may affect the maternal behavior, passively or actively.
A mother is the primary source of information about characteristics of their environmental variations in her maternal behavior is likely adaptive 3. Animal behaviors are usually learnt through the observation or interaction with others 4. A study conducted by Choleris and her colleagues...