Rosebud Posted August 2, 2009 Share Posted August 2, 2009 Sexual pheromones and the evolution of the reward system of the brain: the chemosensory function of the amygdala. Brain Research Bulletin. v. 75. no. 2-4. 2008. p. 460 - issn: 0361-9230 The amygdala of all tetrapod vertebrates receives direct projections from the main and accessory olfactory bulbs, and the strong similarities in the organization of these projections suggest that they have undergone a very conservative evolution. However, current ideas about the function of the amygdala do not pay sufficient attention to its chemosensory role, but only view it as the core of the emotional brain. In this study, we propose that both roles of the amygdala are intimately linked since the amygdala is actually involved in mediating emotional responses to chemical signals. The amygdala is the only structure in the brain receiving pheromonal information directly from the accessory olfactory bulbs and we have shown in mice that males emit sexual pheromones that are innately attractive for females. In fact, sexual pheromones can be used as unconditioned stimuli to induce a conditioned attraction to previously neutral odorants as well as a conditioned place preference. Therefore, sexual pheromones should be regarded as natural reinforcers. Behavioural and pharmacological studies (reviewed here) have shown that the females' innate preference for sexual pheromones is not affected by lesions of the dopaminergic cells of the ventral tegmental area, and that the systemic administration of dopamine antagonists do not alter neither the attraction nor the reinforcing effects of these pheromones. Anatomical studies have shown that the vomeronasal amygdala gives rise to important projections to the olfactory tubercle and the islands of Calleja, suggesting that these amygdalo-striatal pathways might be involved in the reinforcing value of sexual pheromones. [References: 50] Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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