Date of Award

Spring 6-5-2015

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Jeff Keuss

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Janet Bester-Meredith

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Elena Brezynski


vasopressin, maternal behavior, aggression, Peromyscus, infanticide


Research studies since the 1950s have shown that a chemical within the brain called arginine vasopressin (AVP) is associated with the modulation of many different social behaviors in mammals. Some of these behaviors are related to parenting, such as parental care initiation, aggression, social recognition, depression and anxiety. Understanding the physiology behind AVP regulation could allow for the creation of new therapies for treating human social disorders, such as using an AVP receptor antagonist to attenuate anxiety. This project examines how neural injections of AVP and an AVP receptor antagonist affect both maternal care and aggression in female Peromyscus californicus. Though not yet statistically significant, the data suggest that administration of AVP lessens maternal behavior.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Program.

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