Date of Thesis

2011

Thesis Type

Masters Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Owen Floody

Abstract

The general dopamine agonist apomorphine has been shown to have mostly facilitative effects on sexual behavior in rodents (Domingues & Hull, 2005; Bitran & Hull, 1987). A study looking at the effectsof apomorphine on sexual behavior in male golden hamsters observed that after systemic injections of apomorphine the males became aggressive towards the estrous females (Floody, unpublished). Studies on aggressive behavior have shown that apomorphine has facilitative effects on aggression in rodents (Nelson & Trainor, 2007; van Erp & Miczek, 2000; Ferrari, van Erp, Tornatzky, & Miczek, 2003). The studies presented here attempt to unravel the effects that apomorphine has on sexual and aggressive behavior in male golden hamsters. Studies 1, 2, 3, and 4 focused on the effects of apomorphine on aggression and Study 5 focused on the effects of apomorphine on sexual behavior. It was important for the purposes ofthis study to have separate, specific measures of aggression and sexual behavior that did not involve a social context that would involve multiple behaviors and motivations. The measure used to assessaggression was flank marking behavior. The measure used to assess sexual behavior was the number of vocalizations in response to sexual stimuli. The results from Studies 1, 2, and 3 suggested thatapomorphine increased aggressive motivation in a dose-dependent manner. In Studies 1 and 2 there was a high occurrence of stereotyped cheek pouching that interfered with the flank marking behavior. In Study 3 the procedure was modified to prevent cheek pouching and flank marking was observed uninhibited. Study 5 suggested a decrease in vocalizations after apomorphine treatment. However, this decrease may have been a result of the increase in stereotyped licking behavior. Results suggested that systemic apomorphine treatments increase aggressive motivation in hamsters. The increase in aggressive motivation may confuse the perception of the sensory signals that the males receive from the estrous females. They may haveperceived the estrous female as a nonestrous female which they would normally associate with an aggressive interaction (Lehman, Powers, & Winans, 1983).

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Psychology Commons

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