In support of parent-infant bonding, we study the brain mechanisms of mammalian parenting and attachment

Kumi Kuroda

Kumi Kuroda, M.D., Ph.D.

Team Leader, Affiliative Social Behavior [at]

Research Overview

< 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


Selected Publications

  • Shinozuka K. Yano-Nashimoto S., Yoshihara C., Tokita K., Kurachi T., Matsui R., Watanabe D., Inoue K., Takada M., Moriya-Ito K., Tokuno H., Numan M., Saito A., Kuroda KO:
    "Parenting and alloparenting styles in common marmosets and the involvement of a calcitonin-receptor expressing subregion of the medial preoptic area in alloparenting”
    Commun. Biol. (2022), In press.
  • Ohmura N., Okuma L., Truzzi A., Shinozuka K., Saito A., Yokota S., Bizzego A., Miyazawa E., Shimizu M., Esposito G., Kuroda KO:
    "A method to soothe and promote sleep in crying infants utilizing the Transport Response",
    Current Biology,32,1-9(2022)
  • Tsuneoka Y, Yoshihara C, Ohnishi R, Yoshida S, Miyazawa E, Yamada M, Horiguchi K, Young WS, Nishimori K, Kato T, Kuroda KO:
    "Oxytocin facilitates allo-parental behavior under stress in laboratory mice"
    eNeuro, 9(1):ENEURO.0405-21.2022, 1-22 (2022)
  • Fukumitsu K, Kaneko M, Maruyama T, Yoshihara C, Huang AJ, McHugh TJ, Itohara S, Tanaka M, Kuroda KO:
    "Amylin-Calcitonin receptor signaling in the medial preoptic area mediates affiliative social behaviors in female mice"
    Nature Communications, 13, Article number: 709 (2022)
  • Yoshihara C, Tokita K, Maruyama T, Kaneko M, Tsuneoka Y, Fukumitsu K, Miyazawa E, Shinozuka K, Huang AJ, Nishimori K, McHugh TJ, Tanaka M, Itohara S, Touhara K, Miyamichi K, Kuroda KO:
    "Calcitonin receptor signaling in the medial preoptic area enables risk-taking maternal care"
    Cell Reports, 35(9), 109204 (2021)
  • Kuroda KO, Shiraishi Y, Shinozuka K:
    "Evolutionary-adaptive and nonadaptive causes of infant attack/desertion in mammals: Toward a systematic classification of child maltreatment"
    Psychiatry Clin. Neurosci., 74(10), 516-526 (2020)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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.

Lab Members

Principal investigator

Kumi Kuroda
Laboratory Head

Core members

Chihiro Nemoto
Research Scientist
Kazutaka Shinozuka
Research Scientist
Nami Ohmura
Research Scientist
Takuma Kurachi
Research Scientist
Kansai Fukumitsu
Special Postdoctoral Researcher