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Behav Brain Res. 2009 Jun 25;200(2):268-76.

The main and the accessory olfactory systems interact in the control of mate recognition and sexual behavior.

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Behavioral & Reproductive Physiology, UMR 6175 INRA/CNRS/University of Tours, Nouzilly, France.


In the field of sensory perception, one noticeable fact regarding olfactory perception is the existence of several olfactory subsystems involved in the detection and processing of olfactory information. Indeed, the vomeronasal or accessory olfactory system is usually conceived as being involved in the processing of pheromones as it is closely connected to the hypothalamus, thereby controlling reproductive function. By contrast, the main olfactory system is considered as a general analyzer of volatile chemosignals, used in the context of social communication, for the identification of the status of conspecifics. The respective roles played by the main and the accessory olfactory systems in the control of mate recognition and sexual behavior are at present still controversial. We summarize in this review recent results showing that both the main and accessory olfactory systems are able to process partially overlapping sets of sexual chemosignals and that both systems support complimentary aspects in mate recognition and in the control of sexual behavior.

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