Conditioned place preference induced by sexual interaction in female rats

Horm Behav. 1992 Jun;26(2):214-28. doi: 10.1016/0018-506x(92)90043-u.


The present study was undertaken to establish whether the conditioned place preference paradigm can be utilized to investigate and elucidate the neuroendocrine basis of the appetitive elements of female sexual behavior. Females were exposed to a male with which copulation occurred in a distinctive compartment of the place preference apparatus and did not receive an incentive in the alternative compartment. After six pairings to each compartment a place preference test was conducted. Both estradiol benzoate and estradiol benzoate plus progesterone treated, ovariectomized females showed a preference for the compartment associated with sexual interaction. A second group of estradiol plus progesterone treated females was exposed to a male with which copulation occurred in one compartment of the place preference apparatus and to a sexually active, but caged, male in the other. The females tended to prefer the compartment paired with the caged male. After noncontingent intromissions, immediately preceding an additional test, the females showed a place preference for the compartment paired with sexual interaction. The presented observations indicate the potential use of the place preference procedure in studying opposing motivational processes associated with the unconditioned sequence of responses that characterize the species-specific pattern of sexual behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Copulation / physiology*
  • Estradiol / physiology*
  • Estrus / physiology
  • Female
  • Motivation
  • Progesterone / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Social Environment*


  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol