Role of dopamine in anticipatory and consummatory aspects of sexual behavior in the male rat

Behav Neurosci. 1991 Oct;105(5):727-43. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.105.5.727.


The ability of dopamine (DA) receptor antagonists to disrupt anticipatory and consummatory measures of sexual behavior displayed by male rats in bilevel chambers was investigated. In Experiment 1, systemic administration of haloperidol, pimozide, and the D1 antagonist SCH 23390 reduced the number of anticipatory level changes (LC) displayed during a 5-min period before the introduction of a sexually receptive female, increased the mount and intromission latencies (ML and IL), and decreased the number of intromissions before ejaculation (NI) and the total number of ejaculations (NE). The dosages of these drugs required to reduce the LC were lower than those required to increase the ML or IL. Clozapine and the D2 antagonist sulpiride reduced the LC and increased the IL at comparable dosages, although neither drug affected the NI or NE. High dosages of haloperidol, pimozide, and clozapine delayed or abolished level changing and the initiation of copulation. In Experiment 2, bilateral infusions of haloperidol into the nucleus accumbens reduced the LC but did not affect consummatory measures of copulation, whereas bilateral infusions into the dorsal striatum increased the NE. Midline infusions of haloperidol to the medial preoptic area (MPOA) produced nearly all the effects of systemic administration, including a reduced LC, increased ML and IL, a decreased NI, and a decreased NE. These results indicate that both anticipatory and consummatory measures of sexual behavior were disrupted by DA receptor antagonists; however, the measure of anticipatory sexual behavior was more sensitive to disruption than consummatory measures of copulation. DA in the nucleus accumbens and MPOA may be involved in the control of anticipatory sexual behavior, whereas in the MPOA it may also be involved in the initiation of copulation and copulatory rate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Copulation / physiology*
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Ejaculation / physiology
  • Libido / physiology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Dopamine / physiology
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*


  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Dopamine