The role of the medial preoptic area in appetitive and consummatory reproductive behaviors depends on sexual experience and odor volatility in male Syrian hamsters

L. E. Been, A. Petrulis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

In Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus), the expression of reproductive behavior requires the perception and discrimination of sexual odors. The behavioral response to these odors is mediated by a network of ventral forebrain nuclei, including the medial preoptic area (MPOA). The role of MPOA in male copulatory behavior has been well-studied, but less is known about the role of MPOA in appetitive aspects of male reproductive behavior. Furthermore, many previous studies that examined the role of MPOA in reproductive behavior have used large lesions that damaged other nuclei near MPOA or fibers of passage within MPOA, making it difficult to attribute post-lesion deficits in reproductive behavior to MPOA specifically. Thus, the current study used discrete, excitotoxic lesions of MPOA to test the role of this nucleus in opposite-sex odor preference and copulatory behavior in both sexually-naïve and sexually-experienced males. Lesions of MPOA eliminated preference for volatile, opposite-sex odors in sexually-naïve, but not sexually-experienced, males. When males were allowed to contact the sexual odors, however, preference for female odors remained intact. Surprisingly, lesions of MPOA caused severe copulatory deficits only in sexually-naïve males, suggesting previous reports of copulatory deficits following MPOA lesions in sexually-experienced males were not due to damage to MPOA itself. Together, these results demonstrate that the role of MPOA in appetitive and consummatory aspects of reproductive behavior varies with the volatility of the sexual odors and the sexual experience of the male.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1120-1132
Number of pages13
JournalNeuroscience
Volume170
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010

Keywords

  • Odor preference
  • Olfaction
  • Pheromone
  • Reproduction

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