The transition to motherhood is a dramatic event during the lifetime of many animals. In mammals, motherhood is accompanied by hormonal changes in the brain that start during pregnancy, followed by experience dependent plasticity after parturition. Together, these changes prime the nervous system of the mother for efficient nurturing of her offspring. Recent work has described how neural circuits are modified during the transition to motherhood. Here we discuss changes in the auditory cortex during motherhood as a model for maternal plasticity in sensory systems. We compare classical plasticity paradigms with changes that arise naturally in mothers, highlighting current efforts to establish a mechanistic understanding of plasticity and its different components in the context of maternal behavior.
Becoming a mother – circuit plasticity underlying maternal behavior
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