Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

King Creativity at Southwestern

Understanding the Role of Serotonin in Female Sexual Behavior

by Brittany Mason and Anastasia Benson

SEROTONIN IN THE MEDIAL PREOPTIC AREA CONTRIBUTES TO THE SENSITIVITY OF FEMALE RATS TO SEXUAL STIMULATION DURING PACED-MATING BEHAVIOR. Brittany Mason, Anastasia Benson and Fay A. Guarraci. Department of Psychology, Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX 78626

Previous studies have suggested that the medial preoptic area (mPOA) is important for integrating somatosensory signals from coital stimulation with the motor responses associated with the proceptive aspects of female sexual behavior (Guarraci and Clark 2005; Guarraci, Megroz and Clark, 2004; Yang and Clemens, 2000). However, little is known about the influence of serotonergic neurotransmission in the mPOA during paced-mating behavior. The present study was designed to evaluate the role of serotonin in the mPOA on paced-mating behavior in ovariectomized rats primed with estrogen and progesterone. Female rats were tested for paced-mating behavior following bilateral intra-mPOA infusions of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, fluoxetine hydrochloride (3 micro grams/0.2 micro liters) or artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF). Female rats were tested for a total of 30 minutes, approximately 3 ejaculatory series, following infusions. As predicted, infusions of fluoxetine hydrochloride into the mPOA lengthened significantly contact-return latencies after the first ejaculation compared to vehicle infusions; a result similar to the effects of mPOA lesions on paced-mating behavior (Guarraci, Megroz and Clark, 2004; Yang and Clemens, 2000). No differences were observed between rats receiving fluoxetine or aCSF following subsequent ejaculations. The results of the present study suggest that serotonergic neurotransmission in the mPOA contributes to the sensitivity of female rats to sexual stimulation during mating. Supported by the National Science Foundation and King Creativity Fund.