Dopamine: Another “Magic Bullet” for Caregiver Responsiveness?

Viara Mileva-Seitz, Veronica M. Afonso and Alison S. Fleming

in Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199755059
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979479 | DOI:
Dopamine: Another “Magic Bullet” for Caregiver Responsiveness?

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Mammalian mothering is complex and multidimensional, regulated by many hormonal, neurochemical, and neural changes occurring during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. This chapter outlines the maternal phenotype in both humans and rats—a common animal model for mothering. Next, the chapter examines the role of hormones in maternal behavior. It then discuss the role of the dopamine (DA) system in regulation of mothering and mothering-related systems including attention, motivation, mood, and reward. It does this by first presenting a wealth of neuroanatomical, physiological, and genetic evidence from rats that exemplifies specific effects of dopamine dysregulation on maternal behavior. The chapter concludes by outlining the current state of human research on DA and mothering. This includes some correlational neuroanatomical work with magnetic resonance imaging, as well as several genetic association studies.

Keywords: mothering; maternal responsiveness; dopamine; genetic associations; neuroanatomy; endocrinology

Chapter.  11802 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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