Protecting Mum: how hormones act on neural circuitry to regulate postpartum mood and behaviour

   Department of Physiology

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  Dr Rosie Brown  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Mammals give birth to dependent offspring and significant parental involvement is required to ensure offspring survive. During pregnancy and in the early postpartum period, hormones act on neural circuitry to bring about key changes in a mother's mood and behaviour. We have recently shown that the hormone prolactin, plays a key role in regulating protective behaviour in mothers. Although virgin females rarely show aggression towards other members of their species, highly protective behaviour is displayed by females while lactating. Our group aims to investigate how hormones modulate neural circuitry in mothers to regulate investment in different maternal behaviours. This project will use a combination of conditional transgenic mouse models and optogenetics to investigate the hormone-sensitive neural circuit that regulates protective behaviour in mothers. With 1 in 5 new mothers struggling with maternal mental health, there is a clear need to understand how the brain is regulating mood and behaviour during this time. 

We are looking for PhD students with experience in rodents models in neuroendocrine or neuroscience research. Please check whether you are competitive for a University of Otago PhD Scholarship before making further enquiries (see Funding Notes).

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

Students accepted into the PhD programme will be required to apply for a University of Otago PhD scholarship.
Full details of eligibility criteria for a PhD at the University of Otago can be found here:
Full information on scholarships, including international grade requirements, can be found here:
Details of the English language requirements can be found here:
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