Two experiments explored the motivational impact of primary incentive female cues on the operant behavior of sexually naive and experienced male rats. In the first experiment, a straight-arm runway was used to assess the subjects' motivation to approach a goalbox containing either male or female “targets.” Twelve sexually naive Long-Evans males ran for: (1) an empty goalbox; (2) a male conspecific; (3) an ovariectomized (OVX) female; (4) an OVX female given estradiol; (5) or an OVX female treated with estradiol and progesterone. A perforated Plexiglas partition in the goalbox prevented the subject males from physically interacting with the targets, although olfactory, visual, and auditory cues were accessible. We hypothesized that subjects would manifest shorter run times (reflecting greater motivation) when the goalbox contained a receptive/proceptive female as opposed to a nonreceptive female target. Subjects' run times were ordered depending on the nature of the target (from slowest to fastest): empty goalbox, male conspecific, OVX female, OVX + estradiol female, and OVX + estradiol + progesterone female. As predicted, subjects ran significantly faster for a receptive/proceptive female than for a nonreceptive female, indicating that sexually naive males are inherently motivated by female precopulatory cues. In the second experiment, 30 sexually naive male subjects ran for a goalbox containing either a nonestrous (OVX) or an estrous (OVX + estradiol + progesterone) female. Following six trials, 10 males were allowed one intromission with a receptive female, 10 males experienced one ejaculation, and 10 remained sexually naive. Only those males having experienced an ejaculation subsequently decreased their run times for both nonestrous and estrous females, indicating that sexual reinforcement produced by ejaculation, but not intromission, further enhances the motivational impact of female incentive cues.
Hormones and Behavior – Elsevier
Published: Oct 1, 1999
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