Lesions centered on the medial amygdala impair scent-marking and sex-odor recognition but spare discrimination of individual odors in female golden hamsters

Behav Neurosci. 1999 Apr;113(2):345-57. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.113.2.345.


The medial amygdala (Me) has been implicated in various social behaviors that depend on chemosensory cues, but its precise role in discriminating and learning social odors is not known. Female golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) received electrolytic lesions of the Me or sham surgery and were tested for their ability to (a) discriminate between odors of individual males in a habituation-discrimination task, (b) show preferences for male over female odors in a Y maze, and (c) scent-mark in response to male and female odors. All females discriminated between scents of individual males. In contrast, Me lesions eliminated female preferences for male odors in a Y maze. Females with Me lesions also showed a substantial reduction in vaginal marking and virtually no flank marking in response to odors. Thus, the Me in female hamsters is critical for differential investigation of opposite-sex odors and for scent-marking behavior but is not involved in discrimination between odors of individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / pathology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Amygdala / surgery
  • Animals
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cricetinae
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Estrus
  • Female
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Mesocricetus
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology*