Artificially-induced maternal behavior was examined in inexperienced female and male rats following neural transection between the preoptic area and the septum. Anterior roof deafferentation (ARD) of the preoptic area (POA) was performed with an L-shaped microknife. Virgin female and male rats with or without ARD were exposed to the continuous presence of normal pups to induce maternal behavior 3 weeks after surgery. ARD resulted in a significant delay of the onset of maternal behavior in females and a lack of complete development of maternal behavior in males, compared with corresponding sham-operated and intact controls. The results indicate that neural substrates dorsal to the POA play an important role in modulating the expression of maternal behavior in the rat.
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