Responses to Central Oxotremorine and Scopolamine Support the Cholinergic Control of Male Mating Behavior in Hamsters

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The responses of hamsters to intracranial injections of the cholinergic agonist oxotremorine (OXO) implicate cholinergic mechanisms in the medial preoptic area (MPOA) in the control of male mating behavior. To extend these observations, we ran three studies of responses to cholinergic drugs delivered singly or in combination to the vicinity of the MPOA. The first tested responses to OXO, confirming its ability to reduce the postejaculatory interval. The second complemented the first by examining responses to MPOA microinjections of the cholinergic antagonist scopolamine (SCO). These caused several changes revolving around intromission. These included increases in intromission frequency and ejaculation latency. They also included a change in the patterning of intromissions, marked by continuous strings without the usual separation by dismounts. The final study resembled the others in examining the effects of MPOA injections of OXO and SCO but focused on the ability of each drug to antagonize responses to the other. Most of the responses to OXO and SCO individually replicated earlier findings, though the measures examined here also permitted the description of effects on some noncopulatory sexual behaviors, specifically the male's inspection of the female. However, the most interesting results may be those suggesting asymmetry in the responses to the addition of the second drug: Whereas responses to OXO tended to be antagonized by SCO, OXO was less effective at counteracting responses to SCO. Though the explanation of this asymmetry is not completely clear, it is consistent with previous suggestions of differences in the affinities of these drugs for subtypes of muscarinic receptors. Therefore, it suggests that the cholinergic synapses and circuits controlling distinct elements of male behavior could differ in their dependence on these receptors. Copyright 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior



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