Neural mechanisms of sexual behavior in the male rat: emphasis on ejaculation-related circuits.
until further notice
SourcePharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 121, (2014), pp. 170-183
1 juni 2014
Article / Letter to editor
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Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
SubjectRadboudumc 0: Other Research DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
Sexual behavior of the male rat can be described as a 'sequence': a series of behavioral transitions eventually leading to a consummatory act: ejaculation. A 'funnel-model' is presented to describe the behavioral progression during the sexual sequence. The ejaculation itself is extensively controlled by the 'spinal ejaculation generator', consisting of several elements with afferent sources of genitosensory information, with ascending projection fibers to inform the brainstem and forebrain as well as with descending afferent fibers providing the supraspinal control mechanisms with the opportunity to restrict ejaculations to the optimal moments and circumstances. The messages ascending from the spinal cord reach several interconnected thalamic, hypothalamic and limbic brain areas and are integrated with olfactory information. These brain areas play a role in mechanisms like 'sexual satiety' or a temporary interruption of sexual activities (post-ejaculatory interval), but the exact facilitatory and inhibitory mechanisms involved have not been elucidated yet. In the 'downward' mechanisms controlling the spinal 'release' of an ejaculation, the medial preoptic nucleus plays an important role in cooperation with a number of brainstem areas. This nucleus is also explicitly involved in the rewarding experiences coming with an ejaculation. Finally, the role of several neurotransmitters and-peptides on male sexual behavior are discussed shortly, because sometimes they show remarkable effects on specific aspects of the behavioral sequence. We conclude that, despite our increased knowledge about the brain mechanisms involved in the control of ejaculation, we are still far away from a complete understanding and quite a few questions remain to be resolved.
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