In order to clarify the role of the median (MRN) and dorsal (DRN) raphe nuclei in regulating maternal care (retrieving and licking behavior), radiofrequency lesions or microknife cuts were made in postpartum rats on the day after delivery. Animals were housed individually without pups after the operation. One week after the surgery, maternal behavioral test was carried out daily for 3 days using pups of 2-6 days age. The results demonstrated that rats with MRN lesions or ventral horizontal cuts of the MRN showed extremely low incidence of the maternal behavior, as compared to those in control and sham-operated groups. DRN-lesions or dorsal cuts of the MRN had no effect. In locomotor activities measured by the infrared sensor system, there was no difference between the groups. This suggest that the MRN but not DRN plays a critical role in regulating retrieving and licking behaviors and ventral outputs are involved in this function in postpartum rats.
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