Study Reveal - Mothers Take Extra Risks To Protect Their Children

Mother child hand hold protect kevin liang unsplash

Ever wondered why mothers take extra risks to protect their children? The new study led by Kumi Kurosawa at the RIKEN center for brain science in Japan reveals that in mice nurturing behaviors are driven in part by neurons in a small amount of the forebrain that contains a protein called the calcitonin receptor. This study was published in Cell Reports.

The brain's hypothalamus is usually responsible for many simple behaviors like eating and drinking. Still, this new study focused on the party responsible for complicated behaviors like caring for small children.

Kumi Kuroda, RIKEN Center for Brain Science (CBS), said,

We were able to narrow down the brain cells necessary for parental and non-parental care in mice to a subset of neurons in the central MPOA region that contain the calcitonin receptor.

Mother child hand hold protect liv bruce unsplashBaby holding mother's hand

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The central MPOA region of the hypothalamus contained more than seven different kinds of neurons, and the study focused on the most important for nurturing.

The neurons were then examined, further landing into three critical findings.

  • First, the number of cMPOA neurons with the calcitonin receptor was higher in post-partum mothers than in virgin females, males, or fathers.
  • Second, incoming and outgoing connections to these neurons from other parts of the brain changed in females after they gave birth.
  • Third, silencing these neurons disrupted nurturing behavior.