Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)


School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name




First Advisor

Dr. Robert C. Holland


Bilateral lesions of the nucleus accumbens (NA) in the brain of female rats before breeding have been reported to be followed by failure of lactation and cannibalism of offspring. In these studies the possibility that the NA controls release of prolactin from the pituitary gland was investigated.

Bilateral lesions were placed in the NA of virgin female rats. Improperly and/or sham lesioned rats served as controls. Following lesioning, (3-5 days), the rats were bred. After parturition (16-18 hours), blood and anterior pituitaries from each animal were collected and radioimmunoassays of plasma and anterior pituitary contents were performed. All lesions were confirmed histologically.

Confirming the original report, the experimental group demonstrated no maternal behavior which includes nest building, licking, grouping, crouching, and retrieving pups. The plasma prolactin levels of the experimental group were significantly lower than that of the control group. However, the anterior pituitary prolactin levels in the experimental group were higher than those of the control group. It is concluded that the NA plays an important role in suppressing release of prolactin-inhibiting factor thereby allowing release of sufficient prolactin to initiate lactation at the time of parturition.

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