Responses to novel odors mediate maternal behavior and concaveation in gerbils
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In a series of three experiments we examined: (Experiment 1) responses to novel odors by early- and late-maturing not-pregnant, pregnant, nursing and postweaning female Mongolian gerbils, (Experiment 2) the response of the same eight groups of female gerbils to unfamiliar pups, and (Experiment 3) the rate of induction of maternal behavior by concaveation in early- and late-maturing nulliparous gerbils. We found: (1) that those females that responded relatively positively to novel odors in Experiment 1 were more likely to retrieve and less likely to attack unfamiliar pups in Experiment 2 than those females responding relatively negatively to novel odors in Experiment 1, and (2) that early-maturing nulliparous gerbils both responded more positively to novel odors and exhibited more rapid induction of maternal behavior by concaveation than late-maturing nulliparous gerbils. The results both confirm and extend Fleming and Rosenblatt's (1974) hypothesis that differences in response to novel odors mediate individual differences in maternal responsiveness.
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