Functional human brain imaging studies have indicated the essential role of cortical regions, such as the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), in romantic love and sex. However, the neurobiological basis of how the ACC neurons are activated and engaged in sexual attraction remains unknown. Using transgenic mice in which the expression of green fluorescent protein (GFP) is controlled by the promoter of the activity-dependent gene c-fos, we found that ACC pyramidal neurons are activated by sexual attraction. The presynaptic glutamate release to the activated neurons is increased and pharmacological inhibition of neuronal activities in the ACC reduced the interest of male mice to female mice. Our results present direct evidence of the critical role of the ACC in sexual attraction, and long-term increases in glutamate mediated excitatory transmission may contribute to sexual attraction between male and female mice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience