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Lab personnel

Research interests

I am interested in how the changing hormones of pregnancy and lactation act on neural circuitry in the maternal brain to influence behaviour. In particular, I focus on maternal behaviour, a complex set of behaviours displayed by a mother that promote the survival and well-being of her offspring.

Our work aims to understand how hormones normally act to direct a mother's behaviour and how these processes may become disrupted. We investigate hormonal actions on neural circuitry underlying parental behaviour using a range of molecular, immunohistochemical and imaging approaches. I am also interested in how changes in the ability of hormones to access the brain in different physiological or pathological states might underlie changes in hormone function.

Current funding

  • HRC Sir Charles Hercus Fellowship
  • Marsden
  • HRC
  • University of Otago Research Grant


  • NEUR 303

Selected publications

Hackwell, E. C. R., Ladyman, S. R., Brown, R. S. E., & Grattan, D. R. (2023). Mechanisms of lactation-induced infertility in female mice. Endocrinology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1210/endocr/bqad049

Georgescu, T., Khant Aung, Z., Grattan, D. R., & Brown, R. S. E. (2022). Prolactin-mediated restraint of maternal aggression in lactation.  In L. Wilson, H. Harcombe, P. Jayakaran, L. Burga, J. Antony, K. Morgaine, M. Garelja, A. Middleton, M. Anwar & T. Milne (Eds.), Proceedings of the 262nd Otago Medical School Research Society (OMSRS) Meeting: Research Staff Speaker Awards. Dunedin, New Zealand: OMSRS.  Retrieved from

Swart, J. M., Grattan, D. R., Ladyman, S. R., & Brown, R. S. E. (2022). Pups and prolactin are rewarding to virgin female and pregnant mice. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, e13232. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/jne.13232

Hackwell, E. C. R., Ladyman, S. R., Brown, R. S. E., Herbison, A. E., & Grattan, D. R. (2022). Prolactin-induced suppression of gonadotrophin secretion during lactation. Proceedings of the joint ESA-SRB-APEG-NZSE Annual Scientific Meeting. 240. Retrieved from

Brown, R. (2022). Prolactin as a key regulator of maternal care-giving behaviour in mothers.  Proceedings of the joint ESA-SRB-APEG-NZSE Annual Scientific Meeting. 224.  Retrieved from

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