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Horm Behav. 2001 Dec;40(4):497-509.

Brief exposure to female odors "emboldens" male mice by reducing predator-induced behavioral and hormonal responses.

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Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 5C2, Canada.


In rodents, where chemical signals play a particularly important role in determining intersexual interactions, various studies have shown that male behavior and physiology is sensitive to female odor cues. Here we examined the effects of brief (1 min) and more prolonged (60 min) preexposure to the odors of a novel estrous female on the behavioral and hormonal responses of sexually experienced and inexperienced male mice, Mus musculus, to subsequent predator (cat and weasel) odor exposure and potential predator risk. Brief, but not prolonged, preexposure to the odors of an estrous female decreased the aversion and avoidance responses of male mice to cat odor in a Y-maze preference test, with the extent of responses being affected by a males prior sexual experience. Similarly, brief, but not prolonged, preexposure to female odors markedly attenuated the analgesic responses elicited in male mice by weasel odor. Brief exposure to a novel estrous female by itself had no significant immediate effects on either corticosterone or testosterone levels in the males. However, brief, but not prolonged, preexposure to the odors of an estrous female attenuated the marked increase in corticosterone and decrease in testosterone that were induced in males by exposure to weasel odor. The decreases in aversive responses to, and effects of, predator odor exposure that are induced by brief exposure to a novel estrous female may reflect a greater risk taking and boldness in males that could directly facilitate access to an immediately, and possibly transiently, available novel sexually receptive female.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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