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NewsIn the brain, a region has been found that causes females to kill their offspring

In the brain, a region has been found that causes females to kill their offspring

Scientists have pinpointed a small area of ​​the brain that probably causes mothers to beat and even kill babies. Experiments in mice, which also have a similar area of ​​the brain, showed that activating it almost instantly causes mice to die, according to the study. published in the journal Nature.

Scientists have long noticed that nulliparous female mice often kill the offspring of other females. They likely developed this type of behavior to conserve a meager food base for their own future offspring, scientists say. However, most scientific work has been devoted to male infanticide, and the brain mechanisms responsible for the occurrence of infanticide in females are poorly understood.

Scientists from the Grossman School of Medicine at New York University (USA) in experiments on mice have shown that the main nucleus of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNSTpr), which controls emotions, is responsible for this behavior. It turned out that chemical blocking of this area in 100% of cases stops infanticide in female mice. On the contrary, artificial stimulation of this area causes parous and nulliparous mice to kill mice literally a second after stimulation. At the same time, mice are known to rarely attack other adults, so this brain structure specifically controls aggression towards offspring.

The study also showed that the function of BNSTpr is opposite to that of the medial preoptic area (MPOA), which is responsible for activating offspring care.

It was found that nulliparous females had increased BNSTpr activity and reduced MPOA activity. After the first birth, MPOA activity increases and the area responsible for aggression towards the offspring decreases. For this reason, infanticide does not appear in females who gave birth for the first time, both to their own offspring and to the offspring of others.

According to scientists, the BNSTpr study can shed light on the problem of parental aggression in people, which, for example, in the United States is the fourth leading cause of death among preschool children. “Because these two related brain regions are found in both rodents and adults, our study has provided a novel target for research and possibly treatment of mothers who abuse children,” said lead author Dayu Ling. . “Perhaps in the normal state these cells are inactive, but under stress, postpartum depression and other known factors, they become more active.”

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Russia Desk
The Eastern Herald’s Russia Desk validates the stories published under this byline. That includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on easternherald.com.

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