Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Craig H. Kinsley

Second Advisor

Dr. Frederick J. Kozub

Third Advisor

Dr. Kelly G. Lambert


Paternal behavior, though infrequent in many mammalian species, can be induced under laboratory conditions through manipulation of either hormonal or environmental states. Rodent studies of parental behavior have implicated similarities for males and females in not only the actual behavioral repertoire, but also the brain mechanisms governing the set of behaviors in both sexes. The current project investigated changes in oxytocin and vasopressin in the hypothalamus of paternal male rats. We found that paternal behavior, which was readily induced through sensitization (chronic pup exposure), was significantly correlated with increasing oxytocin and vasopressin immunoreactivity within the paraventricular nucleus. Further, corticosterone levels were assessed as a measure of stress and were found to be significantly increased in the pup-exposed group, but uncorrelated to the change in neurohormone immunoreactivity. These findings indicate that the increase in neurohormone immunoreactivity occurred in concert with paternal behavior rather than as a result of a stressful experience.

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