Robert Bridges

Robert Bridges
Professor
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:
508-839-7985

Fax:
508-839-7091

Education

  • 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

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]

Author(s):Byrnes, J.J. | Gleason, E.D. | Schoen, M.K. | Lovelock, D.F. | Carini, L.M. | Byrnes, E.M. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2016
Journal / Book title: Behavioural Brain Research

Long-term alterations in neural and endocrine processes induced by motherhood in mammals

Author(s):Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2016
Journal / Book title: Hormones and Behavior

Neuroendocrine regulation of maternal behavior

Author(s):Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2015
Journal / Book title: Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology

The effects of bromocriptine treatment during early pregnancy on postpartum maternal behaviors in rats

Author(s):Price, A.K. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2014
Journal / Book title: Developmental Psychobiology

Reproductive Experience Alters Neural and Behavioural Responses to Acute Oestrogen Receptor α Activation

Author(s):Byrnes, E.M. | Casey, K. | Carini, L.M. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2013
Journal / Book title: Journal of Neuroendocrinology

Differential sensitivity of specific neuronal populations of the rat hypothalamus to prolactin action

Author(s):Sapsford, T.J. | Kokay, I.C. | Östberg, L. | Bridges, R.S. | Grattan, D.R.
Publication year: 2012
Journal / Book title: Journal of Comparative Neurology

Reproductive experience modifies the effects of estrogen receptor alpha activity on anxiety-like behavior and corticotropin releasing hormone mRNA expression

Author(s):Byrnes, E.M. | Casey, K. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2012
Journal / Book title: Hormones and Behavior

Effects of chronic social stress during lactation on maternal behavior and growth in rats

Author(s):Nephew, B.C. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2011
Journal / Book title: Stress

Accelerated maternal responding following intra-VTA pertussis toxin treatment

Author(s):Byrnes, J.J. | Gleason, E.D. | Schoen, M.T. | Lovelock, D.F. | Carini, L.M. | Byrnes, E.M. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2011
Journal / Book title: Behavioural Brain Research

Amphetamine sensitization in reproductively experienced female rats

Author(s):Byrnes, J.J. | Bridges, R.S. | Byrnes, E.M.
Publication year: 2011
Journal / Book title: Neuroscience Letters

Reproductive experience alters prolactin receptor expression in mammary and hepatic tissues in female rats

Author(s):Bridges, R.S. | Scanlan, V.F. | Lee, J.-O. | Byrnes, E.M.
Publication year: 2011
Journal / Book title: Biology of Reproduction

Region-, neuron-, and signaling pathway-specific increases in prolactin responsiveness in reproductively experienced female rats

Author(s):Sjoeholm, A. | Bridges, R.S. | Grattan, D.R. | Anderson, G.M.
Publication year: 2011
Journal / Book title: Endocrinology

Prolactin actions in the brain

Author(s):Grattan, D.R. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2010
Journal / Book title: Hormones, Brain and Behavior Online

Neuroendocrine control: Maternal behavior

Author(s):Bridges, R.S. | Nephew, B.C.
Publication year: 2010
Journal / Book title: Encyclopedia of Neuroscience

Vasopressin mediates enhanced offspring protection in multiparous rats

Author(s):Nephew, B.C. | Byrnes, E.M. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2010
Journal / Book title: Neuropharmacology

Effects of maternal behavior induction and pup exposure on neurogenesis in adult, virgin female rats

Author(s):Furuta, M. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2009
Journal / Book title: Brain Research Bulletin

Enhanced Maternal Aggression and Associated Changes in Neuropeptide Gene Expression in Multiparous Rats

Author(s):Nephew, B.C. | Bridges, R.S. | Lovelock, D.F. | Byrnes, E.M.
Publication year: 2009
Journal / Book title: Behavioral Neuroscience

Differential expression of oestrogen receptor α following reproductive experience in young and middle-aged female rats

Author(s):Byrnes, E.M. | Babb, J.A. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2009
Journal / Book title: Journal of Neuroendocrinology

Father of mothering: Jay S. Rosenblatt.

Author(s):Fleming, A.S. | Numan, M. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2009
Journal / Book title: Hormones and behavior

Circulating prolactin, MPOA prolactin receptor expression and maternal aggression in lactating rats

Author(s):Consiglio, A.R. | Bridges, R.S.
Publication year: 2009
Journal / Book title: Behavioural Brain Research

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.

  • 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. alt

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.

Teaching

  • Research Ethics – Fall semester graduate course
  • Problem Based Learning – First year veterinary curriculum
  • Organ Systems Structure and Function – Endocrine Unit Leader; Spring semester, 1st year veterinary student curriculum.

Research Interests by Area

Neuroscience and Reproductive Biology
  • Neurobiology of Maternal Behavior

    Appropriate coordination of the reproductive axis is critical for species propagation. In mammals, reproductive processes and associated behaviors are regulated by the central nervous system. Neural signals are critical for synchronizing the release of hormones in response to developmental, experiential, and environmental factors. In addition, the brain controls the expression of behaviors necessary for mating and parenting. Dysregulation of the reproductive axis can have significant consequences for the individual, their offspring, and the species. Learn more.

Reproductive Biology and Neuroscience
  • Reproductive experience and neuroendocrine functions
    Neural Plasticity and Neuroendocrine and Behavioural Process
    Postpartum Mood Disorders

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