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Front Neuroendocrinol. 2011 Apr;32(2):124-36. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2011.02.008. Epub 2011 Feb 19.

Sex differences in the neural circuit that mediates female sexual receptivity.

Author information

  • Department of Psychology and Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. Flanagan@psych.upenn.edu

Abstract

Female sexual behavior in rodents, typified by the lordosis posture, is hormone-dependent and sex-specific. Ovarian hormones control this behavior via receptors in the hypothalamic ventromedial nucleus (VMH). This review considers the sex differences in the morphology, neurochemistry and neural circuitry of the VMH to gain insights into the mechanisms that control lordosis. The VMH is larger in males compared with females, due to more synaptic connections. Another sex difference is the responsiveness to estradiol, with males exhibiting muted, and in some cases reverse, effects compared with females. The lack of lordosis in males may be explained by differences in synaptic organization or estrogen responsiveness, or both, in the VMH. However, given that damage to other brain regions unmasks lordosis behavior in males, a male-typical VMH is unlikely the main factor that prevents lordosis. In females, key questions remain regarding the mechanisms whereby ovarian hormones modulate VMH function to promote lordosis.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
21338620
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3085563
Free PMC Article

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