The motivational aspects of female sexual behavior have been evaluated by a variety of methodologies including: the increasing barrier method, the runway procedure, partner preference test, operant behavior and conditioned place preference. When female rats are tested for sexual receptivity under traditional laboratory conditions, usually a small open area, both appetitive and aversive components of the sexual interaction are easily observed. For example, after prolonged testing, subsequent lordosis and the intensity of this response are reduced increasing the rejection behavior by the female. However, when female rats are allowed to pace (control) the rate of sexual stimulation they received, as usually occurs under seminatural and natural conditions, the aversive properties of mating are reduced. The conditioned place preference can be use to measure the positive affect elicited by mating. We have combined pacing and conditioned place preference in an attempt to reduced the possible aversive consequences associated with mating and increase the likelihood of detecting the appetitive effects of coital interaction in female rats. Only female rats that regulated (paced) their coital interactions with a stud male through a two-compartment chamber in which only the female could freely move from one compartment to the other developed a clear place preference. As well, females that received ten or 15 paced intromissions (without ejaculation) also developed place preference. The place preference induce by paced mating is blocked by the systemic administration of naloxone suggesting that opioids are involved in the reward processes associated with paced mating. Paced sexual interactions can induce a positive affect of sufficient intensity and duration to induce conditioning.
Behavioural Brain Research – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 1999
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