Psychobiological functions of the mammary pheromone in newborn rabbits
Lactating female rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) nurse once daily for 5 min. The pups are thus forced to localize the nipples quickly. The females emit multiple chemosignals to guide them, among which are common odors derived from dietary aromas and one identified pheromone. Thus, the mammary pheromone (MP) released in rabbit milk is highly behaviorally active: it is a potent releaser of suckling-related behaviors in pups. The MP also acts as a strong reinforcer for early odor learning. Both of these functions of the MP are active right after birth and are thus in a position to play a central role in neonatal adaptation. However, the releasing function and the reinforcing functions of the MP follow different time-courses, suggesting that they are controlled by different underlying mechanisms. These data illustrate how a same chemical signal can carry distinct functions in a newborn mammal.
KeywordsConditioned Stimulus Behavioral Activity Oryctolagus Cuniculus Young Rabbit Newborn Rabbit
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