UMMS Affiliation

Center for Comparative Neuroimaging; Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Animals; Animals, Suckling; Brain; Brain Mapping; Cocaine; Dopamine; Female; Image Processing, Computer-Assisted; Injections, Intraventricular; Lactation; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Maternal Behavior; Neural Pathways; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley; *Reward; Time Factors


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Nursing has reciprocal benefits for both mother and infant, helping to promote maternal behavior and bonding. To test the "rewarding" nature of nursing, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to map brain activity in lactating dams exposed to their suckling pups versus cocaine. Suckling stimulation in lactating dams and cocaine exposure in virgin females activated the dopamine reward system. In contrast, lactating dams exposed to cocaine instead of pups showed a suppression of brain activity in the reward system. These data support the notion that pup stimulation is more reinforcing than cocaine, underscoring the importance of pup seeking over other rewarding stimuli during lactation.

DOI of Published Version



J Neurosci. 2005 Jan 5;25(1):149-56. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.