Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Robert Bridges

Head, Section of Neuroscience and Reproductive Biology

Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
Director, Combined DVM/MS Program in Comparative Biomedical Sciences; Honorary Professor, Department of Anatomy, University of Otago Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand

Campus Phone:



  • 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 RS, Editor, Neurobiology of the Parental Brain – Academic Press, Elsevier, 2008.
  2. Byrnes EM, Babb JA, Bridges RS (2009) Differential expression of oestrogen receptor α following reproductive experience in young and middle-aged female rats. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 21:550-557. [PMID 19500225].
  3. Sjoeholm A, Bridges RS, Grattan DR, Anderson GM (2011). Region, neuron and signaling pathway-specific increases in prolactin responsiveness in reproductively experienced female rats. Endocrinology 152:1979-1988. [PMID 21363933].
  4. Bridges RS, Scanlan VF, Lee J-O, Byrnes EM (2011). Reproductive experience alters prolactin receptor expression in mammary and hepatic tissues in female rats. Biology of Reproduction 85:340-346. [PMID 21508351].
  5. Sapsford TJ, Kokay IC, Ostberg L, Bridges RS, Grattan DR (2012). Differential sensitivity of specific neuronal populations of the rat hypothalamus to prolactin action. Journal of Comparative Neurology 520:1062-1077. [PMID 21953590].
  6. Byrnes EM, Casey K, Bridges RS (2012). Reproductive experience modifies the effects of estrogen receptor alpha activity on anxiety-like behavior and corticotropin releasing hormone mRNA expression. Hormones and Behavior 61:44-49. [PMID 22033279].
  7. Nephew BC, Bridges RS. (2013) Effects of chronic stress during lactation on maternal behavior and growth. Stress 14:677-684. [PMID 21875305]
  8. Byrnes EM, Casey K, Carini LM, Bridges RS (2013) Reproductive experience alters neural and behavioural responses to acute oestrogen receptor alpha activation. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 25:1280-1289.
  9. Bridges RS (2014) The neuroendocrinology of maternal behavior, Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, in press.

General Research Interests

My laboratory's research efforts focus 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.

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 Interests by Area

Reproductive Biology and Neuroscience
  • Endocrine regulation of maternal behavior in rats
  • Postpartum Mood Disorders
  • Neural Plasticity and Neuroendocrine and Behavioural Process

Major Specialized Equipment

  • Gamma counter, cryostats, microscopes, behavioral apparatus

Section Collaborators

  • Dr. Elizabeth Byrnes, Ph.D., Associate Professor
  • 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