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Horm Behav. 2000 Sep;38(2):94-101.

Can pseudo entrainment explain the synchrony of estrous cycles among golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus)?

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Department of Psychology, University of California at Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Synchrony among golden hamsters is often cited in the menstrual-cycle synchrony literature and has recently become a paradigm for explaining menstrual synchrony in humans (L. Weller, A. Weller, and S. Roizman (1999), J. Comp. Psychol. 113, 261-268). It has also stimulated further research on synchrony in Djungarian hamsters, for which no evidence of synchrony was found (G. E. Erb, H. E. Edwards, K. L. Jenkins, L. C. Mucklow, and K. E. Wynne-Edwards (1993), Physiol. Behav. 54, 955-959). The case for synchrony in the golden hamster is reexamined in this paper. It is demonstrated, with the help of computer simulation experiments, that the experimental method used by G. Handelmann, R. Ravizza, and W. J. Ray (1980, Horm. Behav. 14, 107-115) for detecting synchrony has a critical flaw. It does not distinguish synchrony that can occur by chance (pseudo entrainment) from synchrony due to a process of entrainment. It is suggested that the apparent entrainment of estrous cycles in hamsters and the role of social dominance may be due to the stress caused by moving animals to different rooms or grouping them. Thus, because we cannot reject the possibility of pseudo entrainment as an explanation for these results, it must be concluded that there is no evidence that golden hamsters synchronize their estrous cycles. Finally, an approach is briefly outlined for testing synchrony in golden hamsters.

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