The focus of research in the Lonstein lab is to better understand the neurobiology of parenting and other social behaviors in mammals. Non-postpartum females of most species do not act very maternally toward infants, although a dramatic change in responding occurs after females are pregnant and their infants are born. Research in the Lonstein lab is devoted to understanding how the hormones of pregnancy and lactation alter neurochemistry in the laboratory rat brain to promote nurturant behaviors towards infants. A related area of research is devoted to studying how reproductive state and physical contact with offspring postpartum modulate female neurochemistry in a way that affects anxiety. We are particularly interested in how infant contact modulates the maternal noradrenergic, GABAergic and serotonergic systems to supress the mother's anxiety and optimize her display of caregiving behaviors. Adequate and appropriate maternal responding is critical for the normal development, if not survival, of offspring. Understanding the parental brain, therefore, has clear implications for non-human development as well as for human welfare.