Where is My Mother? Uncovering Mechanisms of Neglect in the Maternal Brain
In 2017 alone, an estimated 674,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in the United States and over 1,000 of these children died from maltreatment. Mothers were the perpetrators in 69% of these cases and children under the age of one experienced the highest rates of victimization. However, in the same year less than 300 journal articles on the topic of infant abuse or neglect were published in the United States and less than 10 of these papers addressed potential causes of caregiver maltreatment. How does dysfunction in the maternal brain arise? This question has critical implications for our understanding the adverse early life experiences that are ultimately byproducts of pathological parenting. This talk will describe new research using rodent models that has shed some light on how the brain regulates maternal and neglectful responses to infants with a particular emphasis on how the brain might change as mothers transition between these two behavioral states.