Have Sexual Pheromones Their Own Reward System in the Brain of Female Mice?
Even in rodents, there is no clear evidence of the existence of sexual pheromones mediating instinctive intersexual attraction. In this review we discuss previous results of our group indicating that female mice reared in the absence of male-derived chemosignals are ‘attracted’ by some components of male-soiled bedding, presumably detected by the vomeronasal organ. In contrast, male odors (olfactory stimuli) only acquire attractiveness by means of their association with the innately ‘attractive’ vomeronasal-detected pheromones. These ‘attractive’ male pheromones are rewarding to adult females, since they induce conditioned preference for a place where they are repeatedly presented to the females. Pheromone reward seems independent of the dopaminergic neurotransmission in the tegmento-striatal pathway, and uses mechanisms and circuits apparently different to those of other natural reinforcers.
KeywordsVentral Tegmental Area Sexual Pheromone Conditioned Place Preference Olfactory Epithelium Basolateral Amygdala
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