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Vomeronasal, Olfactory, Hormonal Convergence in the Brain: Cooperation or Coincidence?a



    Corresponding author
    1. Program in Neuroscience (4340), Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4075, USA
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    Supported by NIDCD Grant DC-00906.

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ABSTRACT: This paper briefly reviews three topics: (a) Convergent vomeronasal and olfactory chemosensory input into a common circuit considered important for mating in male golden hamsters; (b) Apparent activation of this circuit by intracerebral luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) and (c) Interaction of the LHRH and the two chemosensory inputs. Mapping of c-fos protein in male hamsters mating with females or exposed to female Pheromones indicates intense activation in the central vomeronasal pathways, induced by both olfactory and vomeronasal input. This input appears to activate the medial preoptic area, where chemosensory activation is greater in experienced than in inexperienced animals. Intracerebral injection of LHRH facilitates mating behavior and increases Fos expression in the medial preoptic area of mating males. Despite evidence that the release of LHRH in response to female chemosignals is dependent on vomeronasal input, no activation of LHRH neurons has been demonstrated in males exposed to such chemosignals. Electrical stimulation of the vomeronasal organ can induce Fos expression in chemosensory pathways and in medial preoptic LHRH neurons.