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Curr Biol. 2015 Mar 2;25(5):589-94. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.12.048. Epub 2015 Feb 12.

Enhanced male-evoked responses in the ventromedial hypothalamus of sexually receptive female mice.

Author information

1
Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Av. de Brasilia, 1400-038 Lisbon, Portugal.
2
Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Av. de Brasilia, 1400-038 Lisbon, Portugal. Electronic address: susana.lima@neuro.fchampalimaud.org.

Abstract

Social encounters often start with routine investigatory behaviors before developing into distinct outcomes, such as affiliative or aggressive actions. For example, a female mouse will initially engage in investigatory behavior with a male but will then show copulation or rejection, depending on her reproductive state. To promote adaptive social behavior, her brain must combine internal ovarian signals and external social stimuli, but little is known about how socially evoked neural activity is modulated across the reproductive cycle [1]. To investigate this, we performed single-unit recordings in the ventrolateral region of the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMHvl) in freely behaving, naturally cycling, female mice interacting with conspecifics of both genders. The VMHvl has been implicated in rodent sociosexual behavior [2, 3]: it has access to social sensory stimuli [4-8] and is involved in aggression and mating [9-11]. Furthermore, many VMHvl neurons express ovarian hormone receptors [12, 13], which play a central role in female sociosexual behavior [14-16]. We found that a large fraction of VMHvl neurons was activated in the presence of conspecifics with preference to male stimuli and that the activity of most VMHvl neurons was modulated throughout social interactions rather than in response to specific social events. Furthermore, neuronal responses to male, but not female, conspecifics in the VMHvl were enhanced during the sexually receptive state. Thus, male-evoked VMHvl responses are modulated by the reproductive state, and VMHvl neural activity could drive gender-specific and reproductive state-dependent sociosexual behavior.

PMID:
25683805
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2014.12.048
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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