The reward system and maternal behavior in an animal model of depression: A microdialysis study

Yael Lavi-Avnon, Aron Weller, John P.M. Finberg, Iris Gispan-Herman, Noa Kinor, Yaakov Stern, Mariana Schroeder, Vered Gelber, S. Yoav Bergman, David H. Overstreet, Gal Yadid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Rationale and objectives: Flinders sensitive line (FSL) rats, an animal model of depression, display a different pattern of maternal behavior compared to Sprague-Dawley (SD) controls. In this study, we examined the rewarding value of mother-infant interaction for FSL dams. Materials and methods: In the main study, we measured monoamine levels in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of early postpartum FSL and SD dams during an interaction with pups, using the microdialysis technique. In addition, we compared the preference patterns of FSL and SD rats using the conditioned place preference paradigm, with pups as the unconditioned stimuli. Results: Dopamine (DA) levels in dialysates from the NAc of SD dams but not FSL dams were elevated while interacting with pups but the metabolism of DA to dihydroxyphenylacetic acid was greater in FSL than in SD dams. While SD dams showed a conditioned preference for a region that was associated with SD pups, FSL dams did not show a preference for regions associated either with SD or FSL pups, but water deprived FSL rats demonstrated a preference to a region associated with water, eliminating an alternative explanation of learning deficit in FSL rats. Conclusions: Taken together, these results suggest that FSL dams are less rewarded by pups, compared to control dams.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-291
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements All authors deny any involvement, financial or otherwise, that might potentially bias this work. The research reported in this paper was completed as part of the first author’s Ph.D. dissertation, in the Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel. YLA was supported by Bar-Ilan University’s President’s Fellowship for Outstanding Doctoral Students. Experiment 1 (the microdyalisis study) was supported by a predoctoral research grant from the Israel Foundation Trustees to YLA. Experiment 2 (the CPP study) was supported by a grant from the Israel Foundation Trustees to AW. A portion of this research was presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology, in June 2004, Aix en Provance, France. The experiments reported in this manuscript comply with the current laws of the State of Israel.


  • Anhedonia
  • Dopamine
  • FSL
  • Maternal behavior
  • Model of depression
  • Nucleus accumbens


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