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Pup suckling is more rewarding than cocaine: evidence from functional magnetic resonance imaging and three-dimensional computational analysis

By Josie A. Harder, M.M. Febo, C.F. Ferris and J.M. Jr Sullivan


NoNursing has reciprocal benefits for both mother and infant, helping to promote maternal behavior and bonding. To test the "rewarding" nature of nursing, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to map brain activity in lactating dams exposed to their suckling pups versus cocaine. Suckling stimulation in lactating dams and cocaine exposure in virgin females activated the dopamine reward system. In contrast, lactating dams exposed to cocaine instead of pups showed a suppression of brain activity in the reward system. These data support the notion that pup stimulation is more reinforcing than cocaine, underscoring the importance of pup seeking over other rewarding stimuli during lactatio

Topics: Accumbens, Cocaine, Nigrostriatal, Prefrontal, Magnetic, Maternal, Substantia Nigra, Suckling, Motivation
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3156-04.2005
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Bradford Scholars
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