The Neurobiology of Sexual Solicitation: Vaginal Marking in Female Syrian Hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus)
Vaginal marking is a reproductively-oriented scent marking response, in which female Syrian hamsters deposit vaginal secretions in response to odor cues from male conspecifics. Converging lines of evidence suggest that vaginal marking functions as a solicitational signal, or an advertisement of a female’s impending sexual receptivity. Although vaginal marking is commonly used as an assay of proceptivity, the neural control of vaginal marking remains largely unknown. In this chapter, we will review the existing literature on vaginal marking, synthesizing evidence from behavioral, endocrine, and neuroanatomical studies that indicate targets for the neural control of vaginal marking. Lastly, we will describe preliminary data from our laboratory that suggests a possible neural circuit for the descending control of vaginal marking in female Syrian hamsters.
KeywordsEstrous Cycle Golden Hamster Vaginal Secretion Main Olfactory Bulb Accessory Olfactory Bulb
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