In rodents, socio-sexual behaviour is largely mediated by chemosensory cues, some of which are rewarding stimuli. Female mice display an innate attraction towards male chemosignals, dependent on the vomeronasal system. This behaviour likely reflects the hedonic value of sexual chemosignals. The anteromedial aspect of the olfactory tubercle, along with its associated islands of Calleja, receives vomeronasal inputs and sexually-dimorphic vasopressinergic innervation. Thus, we hypothesised that this portion of the ventral striato-pallidum, known to be involved in reward processing, might be important for sexual odorant-guided behaviours. In this study, we demonstrate that lesions of this region, but not of regions in the posterolateral striato-pallidum, abolish the attraction of female mice for male chemosignals, without affecting significantly their preference for a different natural reward (a sucrose solution). These results show that, at least in female mice, the integrity of the anterior aspect of the medioventral striato-pallidum, comprising a portion of the olfactory tubercle and associated islands of Calleja, is necessary for the attraction for male chemosignals. We suggest that this region contributes to the processing of the hedonic properties of biologically significant odorants.
Keywords: Islands of Calleja; Olfactory tubercle; Reward; Sexual attraction; Vomeronasal system.
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