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Brain Behav Evol. 2008;71(2):143-50. Epub 2007 Nov 21.

Reproductive hormones modify reception of species-typical communication signals in a female anuran.

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  • 1Institute for Neuroscience, University of Texas, Austin, Tex, USA. lynchks@jhu.edu


In many vertebrates, the production and reception of species-typical courtship signals occurs when gonadotropin and gonadal hormone levels are elevated. These hormones may modify sensory processing in the signal receiver in a way that enhances behavioral responses to the signal. We examined this possibility in female túngara frogs (Physalaemus pustulosus) by treating them with either gonadotropin (which elevated estradiol) or saline and exposing them to either mate choruses or silence. Expression of an activity-dependent gene, egr-1, was quantified within two sub-nuclei of the auditory midbrain to investigate whether gonadotropin plus chorus exposure induced greater egr-1 induction than either of these stimuli alone. The laminar nucleus (LN), a sub-nucleus of the torus semicircularis that contains steroid receptors, exhibited elevated egr-1 induction in response to chorus exposure and gonadotropin treatment. Further analysis revealed that neither chorus exposure nor gonadotropin treatment alone elevated egr-1 expression in comparison to baseline levels whereas gonadotropin + chorus exposure did. This suggests that mate signals and hormones together produce an additive effect so that together they induce more egr-1 expression than either alone. Our previously published studies of female túngara frogs reveal that (1) gonadotropin-induced estradiol elevations also increase behavioral responses to male signals, and (2) reception of male signals elevates estradiol levels in the female. Here, we report data that reveal a novel mechanism by which males exploit female sensory processing to increase behavioral responses to their courtship signals.

Copyright Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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