The neurobiology of parenting: A neural circuit perspective


Social interactions are essential for animals to reproduce, defend their territory, and raise their young. The conserved nature of social behaviors across animal species suggests that the neural pathways underlying the motivation for, and the execution of, specific social responses are also maintained. Modern tools of neuroscience have offered new opportunities for dissecting the molecular and neural mechanisms controlling specific social responses. We will review here recent insights into the neural circuits underlying a particularly fascinating and important form of social interaction, that of parental care. We will discuss how these findings open new avenues to deconstruct infant-directed behavioral control in males and females, and to help understand the neural basis of parenting in a variety of animal species, including humans. Please also see the video abstract here.

Journal details

Journal BioEssays
Volume 39
Issue number 1
Pages 1600159
Publication date


Type of publication