The Coolidge effect is the resumption of copulatory behavior induced by a novel sexual partner that has been reported in several species. The term is also used in males when they resume mating when exposed to an unknown receptive female after they have reached sexual exhaustion. Only few studies have evaluated the Coolidge effect in females. In the present study we further evaluated this possibility using the sexual incentive motivation (SIM) and the partner preference (PP) tests. Ovariectomized rats were hormonally primed and allowed to mate for 1h controlling the sexual interaction (paced mating) or in a condition where they were unable to pace the sexual encounters. In the SIM and PP tests, females were exposed to the male with whom they had mated before (known male) or with an unknown, sexually experienced one (unknown male). Regardless whether they paced the sexual interaction, all females showed clear preference for the unknown male but females that paced the sexual contacts spent more time in the incentive zone of the unknown male than females that could not pace the sexual interaction. Similar results were observed in the PP test. Both groups of females spent more time in the compartment of the previously unknown male than in that of the known one, but received the same amount of sexual stimulation, i.e., mounts, intromissions and ejaculations from both males. No preference was found when the females were tested in the SIM test between an unknown male and a sexually receptive female. The results further support the existence of a Coolidge effect in female rats that is more apparent if they pace the sexual interaction.
Keywords: Coolidge effect; Partner preference; Sexual incentive motivation; Sexual motivation.
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