The Effects of Paternal Behavior on Offspring Aggression and Hormones in the Biparental California Mouse

Catherine A. Marler, Brian C. Trainor, Erin D. Gleason, Janet K. Bester-Meredith, Elizabeth A. Becker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

11 Scopus citations


Series of experiments with Peromyscus combined with studies from other species reveal interesting effects of parental behavior on aggression. Both paternal pup retrievals and some aspect(s) of maternal separation (MS) appear to influence aggression of offspring. Paternal retrievals, however, may have a unique effect on offspring aggression that function in part through changes to the arginine vasopressin neurochemical system associated with the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. In comparison, MS and paternal huddling and grooming may function through the paraventricular nucleus as a result of stress, although effects on aggression appear to vary depending on species. The effects of paternal behavior were not uniform such that pup retrievals, but not huddling and grooming appeared to influence aggression. Thus, paternal effects on aggression may operate through mechanisms different than those traditionally associated with stress. This is also supported by preliminary data indicating a change in testosterone levels of pups in response to paternal retrievals. Despite the lack of an effect of changes in paternal huddling and grooming of offspring on aggression, it is possible that paternal separation in California mice may cause changes in aggression similar to those of MS in either rats or house mice. A careful comparison of aspects of aggression that are influenced by paternal retrievals vs. parental separation could be very illuminating in that one might predict different outcomes for different types of aggression. © 2008

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeurobiology of the Parental Brain
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780123742858
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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