Maternally responsive neurons in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and medial preoptic area: Putative circuits for regulating anxiety and reward.
Postpartum neuropsychiatric disorders are a major source of morbidity and mortality and affect at least 10% of childbearing women. Affective dysregulation within this context has been identified in association with changes in reproductive steroids. Steroids promote maternal actions and modulate affect, but can also destabilize mood in some but not all women. Potential brain regions that mediate these effects include the medial preoptic area (mPOA) and ventral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (vBNST). Herein, we review the regulation of neural activity in the mPOA/vBNST by environmental and hormonal concomitants in puerperal females. Such activity may influence maternal anxiety and motivation and have significant implications for postpartum affective disorders. Future directions for research are also explored, including physiological circuit-level approaches to gain insight into the functional connectivity of hormone-responsive maternal circuits that modulate affect.
McHenry, JA; Rubinow, DR; Stuber, GD
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