Progress on the paternal brain: Theory, animal models, human brain research, and mental health implications

J. E. Swain, C. J. Dayton, P. Kim, R. M. Tolman, B. L. Volling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


With a secure foundation in basic research across mammalian species in which fathers participate in the raising of young, novel brainimaging approaches are outlining a set of consistent brain circuits that regulate paternal thoughts and behaviors in humans. The newest experimental paradigms include increasingly realistic baby-stimuli to provoke paternal cognitions and behaviors with coordinated hormone measures to outline brain networks that regulate motivation, reflexive caring, emotion regulation, and social brain networks with differences and similarities to those found in mothers. In this article, on the father brain, we review all brain-imaging studies on PubMed to date on the human father brain and introduce the topic with a selection of theoretical models and foundational neurohormonal research on animal models in support of the human work.We discuss potentially translatable models for the identification and treatment of paternal mood and father-child relational problems, which could improve infant mental health and developmental trajectories with potentially broad public health importance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-408
Number of pages15
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health.


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