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Physiol Behav. 2000 Sep 15;70(5):537-49.

The vomeronasal organ is involved in discrimination of individual odors by males but not by females in golden hamsters.

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Department of Psychology, Uris Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The vomeronasal organ (VNO) has a wide variety of functions in terrestrial vertebrates, some of which involve responses to classical pheromones whereas others do not. We examined the role of the VNO in discrimination of individual differences in odors of male and female golden hamsters using a habituation paradigm. Removal of the VNO resulted in elimination of the ability of male hamsters to discriminate between some individually distinctive odors (e.g., flank gland secretion), but not others (e.g., urine). In females, such lesions had no effect. The type of test trial also influenced the results; in test trials employing a single, novel odor, removal of the VNO in males did have an effect but in test trials in which both the novel and the familiar odor were presented, VNO removal had no effect. It is concluded that (a) there is a sex difference in the role of the VNO in the discrimination of individual odors, (b) the role of the VNO in discrimination of individual odors varies from odor to odor, and

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