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Robert Bridges

Robert Bridges
Professor Emeritus

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  • B.A. Biology - Earlham College - 1969
  • M.S. BioBehavioral Sciences - University of Connecticut - 1972
  • Ph.D. Endocrinology - University of Connecticut - 1974
  • Postdoctoral Fellowships - Rutgers University 1975-1977; UCLA 1977-1978
  1. Bridges, R.S. 2020. The behavioral neuroendocrinology of maternal behavior: Past accomplishments and future directions. Hormones and Behavior.
  2. Moran, C.R., Gallagher, J.M., Bridges, R.S. 2020. The role of the estrogen receptor-α gene, Esr1, in maternal-like behavior in juvenile female and male rats. Physiology and Behavior.
  3. Gallagher, J.M., Nephew, B.C., Poirier, G., King, J.A., Bridges, R.S. 2019. Estrogen receptor-alpha knockouts and maternal memory in nulliparous rats. Hormones and Behavior.
  4. Bridges, R.S., Grattan, D.R. 2019. 30 years after: CNS actions of prolactin: Sources, mechanisms and physiological significance. Journal of Neuroendocrinology.
  5. Byrnes, J.J., Gleason, E.D., Schoen, M.K., Lovelock, D.F., Carini, L.M., Byrnes, E.M., Bridges, R.S. 2016. Corrigendum to "Accelerated maternal responding following intra-VTA pertussis toxin treatment" [Behav. Brain Res. 223 (October (2)) (2011) 322-328; Epub 2011 May 6 DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.04.048]. Behavioural Brain Research.
  6. Bridges, R.S. 2016. Long-term alterations in neural and endocrine processes induced by motherhood in mammals. Hormones and Behavior.
  7. Bridges, R.S. 2015. Neuroendocrine regulation of maternal behavior. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology.
  8. Price, A.K., Bridges, R.S. 2014. The effects of bromocriptine treatment during early pregnancy on postpartum maternal behaviors in rats. Developmental Psychobiology.
  9. Byrnes, E.M., Casey, K., Carini, L.M., Bridges, R.S. 2013. Reproductive Experience Alters Neural and Behavioural Responses to Acute Oestrogen Receptor α Activation. Journal of Neuroendocrinology.
  10. Sapsford, T.J., Kokay, I.C., Östberg, L., Bridges, R.S., Grattan, D.R. 2012. Differential sensitivity of specific neuronal populations of the rat hypothalamus to prolactin action. Journal of Comparative Neurology.
  11. Byrnes, E.M., Casey, K., Bridges, R.S. 2012. Reproductive experience modifies the effects of estrogen receptor alpha activity on anxiety-like behavior and corticotropin releasing hormone mRNA expression. Hormones and Behavior.
  12. Coverdill, A.J., McCarthy, M., Bridges, R.S., Nephew, B.C. 2012. Effects of chronic central arginine vasopressin (AVP) on maternal behavior in chronically stressed rat dams. Brain Sciences.
  13. Nephew, B.C., Bridges, R.S. 2011. Effects of chronic social stress during lactation on maternal behavior and growth in rats. Stress.
  14. Byrnes, J.J., Bridges, R.S., Byrnes, E.M. 2011. Amphetamine sensitization in reproductively experienced female rats. Neuroscience Letters.
  15. Bridges, R.S., Scanlan, V.F., Lee, J.-O., Byrnes, E.M. 2011. Reproductive experience alters prolactin receptor expression in mammary and hepatic tissues in female rats. Biology of Reproduction.
  16. Sjoeholm, A., Bridges, R.S., Grattan, D.R., Anderson, G.M. 2011. Region-, neuron-, and signaling pathway-specific increases in prolactin responsiveness in reproductively experienced female rats. Endocrinology.
  17. Byrnes, J.J., Gleason, E.D., Schoen, M.T., Lovelock, D.F., Carini, L.M., Byrnes, E.M., Bridges, R.S. 2011. Accelerated maternal responding following intra-VTA pertussis toxin treatment. Behavioural Brain Research.
  18. Nephew, B.C., Byrnes, E.M., Bridges, R.S. 2010. Vasopressin mediates enhanced offspring protection in multiparous rats. Neuropharmacology.
  19. Furuta, M., Bridges, R.S. 2009. Effects of maternal behavior induction and pup exposure on neurogenesis in adult, virgin female rats. Brain Research Bulletin.
  20. Nephew, B.C., Bridges, R.S., Lovelock, D.F., Byrnes, E.M. 2009. Enhanced Maternal Aggression and Associated Changes in Neuropeptide Gene Expression in Multiparous Rats. Behavioral Neuroscience.

General Research Interests

My laboratory's research efforts focused upon the effects of the hormones of pregnancy and lactation upon maternal behavior and the neuroendocrine events that characterize these physiological states. Specifically, the actions of the hormone prolactin and the neural prolactin system are a main subject of study. We also have a keen interest in the longer term effects of reproductive experience in female mammals upon neural processing as a model for adult neuroplasticity. Possible alterations in dopaminergic and central lactogenic receptor systems as a function of reproductive experience are studied in the context of neuroendocrine and behavioral plasticity. Another area of research explores the neurobiological events underlying the establishment and activation of maternal memory, including the roles of pregnancy, birth, and the lactational state in this process.

Neurobiological Regulation of Maternal Behavior

The regulation of the onset of maternal behavior at parturition is regulated in part by the hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy and birth. Specific roles for the lactogenic hormones, prolactin and placental lactogens, together with their neural sites and modes of action have served to elucidate crucial factors that contribute to the normal and possibly abnormal expression of maternal care during the postpartum period. Moreover, research efforts to understand how the changes in the endocrine system and secretion of hormones contribute to much longer changes in neural processing have identified multiple alterations in neural receptor and transmitter activities that result from prior parenting. Delineating the physiology underlying normative maternal care provides a basis for understanding deviations and variations in maternal care, including maternal neglect and abuse.

Selected Research Projects

  • "Endocrine Regulation of Maternal Behavior" This NIH funded project examines the biological regulation of maternal behavior in mammals, using the rat as a model. Central sites of endocrine regulation of the onset of maternal care and neurochemical events responsible for the maintenance and retention of maternal behavior are studied.
  • "Neuroendocrine Consequences of Reproductive Experience" - This NIH funded project examines the long-term effects of prior pregnancies and lactations on neurochemical functions associated with behavioral and hormonal states. A primary focus is on alterations in neural dopaminergic function resulting from reproductive experience. Studies are conducted using a rat model.

Research and Clinical Interests

  • Surgical approaches include stereotaxic surgery and routine endocrine surgeries.
  • Lab techniques include radioimmunosassays for hormones, in situ hybridization histochemistry, and immunocytochemistry for neural peptides and receptors. Research Technique
  • Behavioral assays include measurement of parental behavior, elevated-plus maze, activity chambers (computerized), assessment of pain, and testing for reproductive behaviors.

Major Specialized Equipment

  • Gamma counter, cryostats, microscopes, behavioral apparatus

Section Collaborators

  • Dr. Phyllis Mann, Ph.D., Associate Professor
  • Dr. Benjamin Nephew, Assistant Professor

Outside Collaborators

  • Dr. David Grattan, Ph.D. - Professor, University of Otago Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand
  • Dr. Jean King, Ph.D. - Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA