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RIKEN Center for Brain Science Laboratory for Affiliative Social Behavior

Laboratory Head: Kumi Kuroda (M.D., Ph.D.)

Research Summary

Kumi  Kuroda(M.D., Ph.D.)

Research Unit for Affiliative Social Behaviors
Our research unit aims to elucidate the brain mechanisms responsible for parent-infant bond in mammals. Mammalian infants require intense care to grow up, including nursing (provision of mother's milk), protection, and education. To guarantee survival and well-being of their young, parents are equipped with innate motivation to nurture them. Infants are also born with attachment instincts, including suckling, crying and following their caregivers. These drives are hard-wired in the mammalian brain, and postnatal learning experiences refine these actual behaviors. The family bond experienced in early life forms the foundation of various kinds of affiliative social behaviors in the adult. Our goal is to determine the neural mechanisms that mediate parenting and attachment. We are currently using the laboratory mouse (Mus musculus), a species of which both parents and even juveniles provide a high level of care toward the young. The strong analytical tools of behavioral genetics and molecular biology are best applicable for this species among mammals. Our methods encompass behavioral assays, brain area mapping, neural circuit analyses, and identification of relevant molecules and intracellular signaling pathways.
(More information available at our Laboratory Website)

Main Research Fields

  • Complex Systems

Related Research Fields

  • Biological Sciences
  • Biology
  • Medicine, Dentistry & Pharmacy


  • Parent-infant relationship in Mammals
  • Attachment
  • Parental behavior
  • Affiliative Social Behavior
  • Medial preoptic area

Selected Publications

  • 1.Esposito G, Truzzi A, Yoshida S, Ohnishi R, Miyazawa E, Kuroda KO.:
    "Using maternal rescue of pups in a cup to investigate mother-infant interactions in mice/rodents"
    Behav Brain Res., 374:112081 (2019)
  • 2.Yoshida S, Ohnishi R, Tsuneoka Y, Yamamoto-Mimura Y, Muramatsu R, Kato T, Funato H, Kuroda KO.:
    "Corticotropin-Releasing Factor Receptor 1 in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex Mediates Maternal Absence-Induced Attenuation of Transport Response in Mouse Pups"
    Front. Cell. Neurosci., 12:204 (2018)
  • 3.Amano T, Shindo S, Yoshihara C, Tsuneoka Y, Uki H, Minami M, Kuroda KO:
    "Development-dependent behavioral change toward pups and synaptic transmission in the rhomboid nucleus of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis",
    Behav Brain Res. 325 Part B, 131-137 (2016)
  • 4.Tsuneoka Y, Tokita K, Yoshihara C, Amano T, Esposito G, Huang AJ, Yu LM, Odaka Y, Shinozuka K, McHugh TJ, Kuroda KO.:
    "Distinct preoptic‐BST nuclei dissociate paternal and infanticidal behavior in mice"
    EMBO Journal, 34(21), 2652-70 (2015)
  • 5.Yoshida S, Esposito G, Ohnishi R, Tsuneoka Y, Okabe S, Kikusui T, Kato T, and Kuroda KO.:
    "Transport Response is a filial-specific behavioral response to maternal carrying in C57BL/6 mice"
    Front Zool, 10(1), 50 (2013)
  • 6.Esposito G*, Yoshida S*, Ohnishi R, Tsuneoka Y, Rostagno MC, Yokota S, Okabe S, Kamiya K, Hoshino M, Shimizu M, Venuti P, Kikusui T, Kato T and Kuroda KO.:
    "Infant calming responses during maternal carrying in humans and mice"
    Current Biology, 23(9), 739-745 (2013) *These two authors contributed equally to this study.
  • 7.Tachikawa K, Yoshihara Y, and Kuroda KO.:
    "Behavioral Transition from Attack to Parenting in Male Mice: a Crucial Role of the Vomeronasal System"
    J Neurosci, 33(12), 5120-6 (2013)
  • 8.Tsuneoka Y, Maruyama T, Yoshida S, Nishimori K, Kato T, Numan M, and Kuroda KO.:
    "Functional, anatomical, and neurochemical differentiation of medial preoptic area subregions in relation to maternal behavior in the mouse"
    J Comp Neurol, 521(7), 1633-63 (2013) (e-pub 2012)
  • 9.Kuroda KO, and Tsuneoka Y.:
    "Assessing postpartum maternal care, alloparental behavior, and infanticide in mice: with notes on chemosensory influences"
    Methods Mol Biol, 1068, 331-47 (2013)
  • 10.Kuroda KO, Tachikawa K, Yoshida S, Tsuneoka Y, and Numan N.:
    "Neuromolecular basis of parental behavior in laboratory mice and rats: with special emphasis on technical issues of using mouse genetics"
    Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry, 35(5), 1205-1231 (2011)

Recent Research Results


Related Links

Lab Members

Principal investigator

Kumi Kuroda
Laboratory Head

Core members

Chihiro Nemoto
Research Scientist
Kazutaka Shinozuka
Research Scientist
Nami Ohmura
Research Scientist
Saori Yano
Research Scientist
Yuko Shiraishi
Research Scientist
Kansai Fukumitsu
Visiting Researcher

Contact Information

2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan
Email: oyako [at] brain.riken.jp