Intermale social aggression: suppression by medial preoptic area lesions

Physiol Behav. 1986;38(2):169-73. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(86)90151-4.


The intermale social aggressive behavior of male rats cohabiting with a female rat was quantitatively scored weekly in response to the introduction of an unfamiliar intruding male. Resident male rats whose aggressiveness toward an intruder reached a criterion level were subjected to either sham lesions or bilateral lesions in the region of the medial preoptic area. The lesioned rats continued to exhibit levels of piloerection and lateral attack that were not significantly lower than those of sham-lesioned animals. However, the lesioned animals did emit significantly fewer bites and spent significantly less time in the "on-top" position than did sham-lesioned animals. The lesioned animals also displayed significantly less sexual behavior than the sham-lesioned animals but were not different in terms of defensiveness toward the experimenter. It is suggested that bilateral lesions in the region of the medial preoptic area cause a decrease in the intensity of intermale social aggression but do not prevent external stimuli from eliciting the aggression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Male
  • Preoptic Area / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology