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Physiol Behav. 1993 Dec;54(6):1119-24.

Sex differences in anxiety behavior in rats: role of gonadal hormones.

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Department of Pscyhology, Bronfman Science Center, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267.


These experiments examined the role of gonadal hormones at both the organizational and activational time periods on sex differences in plus-maze behavior. In the first experiment, adult female Long-Evans rats were found to spend more time on the open arms of the plus maze than adult males, indicating less anxious behavior. In the second experiment, male and female subjects received a neonatal treatment (chemical castration with flutamide or tamoxifen, vehicle injection, or no injection) and a prepubertal treatment (gonadectomy, sham surgery, or no surgery). Adult females receiving either neonatal tamoxifen or prepubertal ovariectomy spent less time on the open arms than control females, but females who received both treatments were the most defeminized subjects. Males were not affected by the absence of gonadal hormones at either time period. These experiment indicate that female gonadal hormones play an important role both organizationally and activationally in plus-maze behavior. The role of the GABA receptor complex in mediating this effect is discussed. Knowledge of sex differences in plus-maze behavior may help to make this maze a more useful tool in investigating anxiety behavior in rats.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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