Social transmission of maternal behavior via oxytocin and synaptic plasticity
Robert Froemke, PhD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Neuroscience & Physiology,
Skirball Institute, Neuroscience Institute, NYU School of Medicine;
Center for Neural Science, NYU
Host: Eddy Albarran (Ding Lab)
Oxytocin is important for social interactions and maternal behavior. However, little is known about when, where, and how oxytocin modulates neural circuits to improve social cognition. Here I will discuss recent results and unpublished data from our lab on how oxytocin enables maternal behavior in new mother mice. I will focus on experience-dependent plasticity in auditory cortex and hypothalamus related to recognizing the significance of pup distress calls, which are important for mother mice retrieving lost pups back to the nest. Surprisingly, this behavior, neural responses, and oxytocin receptor expression were lateralized to the left side of the auditory cortex, perhaps similar to the lateralization of language abilities in humans. I will also describe a new system we have built to combine continuous days-to-weeks-long neural recordings from the auditory cortex and oxytocin neurons of the hypothalamus in vivo, synchronized with continuous audio-video monitoring of homecage behavior to identify when oxytocin release and cortical plasticity might occur during natural social and maternal experience.
 Kuchibhotla KV, Gill JV, Lindsay GW, Papadoyannis ES, Field RE, Sten TA, Miller KD, Froemke RC. Parallel processing by cortical inhibition enables context-dependent behavior. Nat Neurosci. 2017 Jan;20(1):62-71. doi:10.1038/nn.4436