Neural and Hormonal Interactions in the Reproductive Behavior of Female Rats

  • Barry R. Komisaruk
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 11)


The lordosis posture in female rats (elevation of the rump and head and depression of the back) is a hormone-sensitive reflexive response to tactile stimulation of the flank region. It is normally elicited by the rapid pelvic thrusting movements of the male. After the male dismounts, the female maintains the lordosis posture longer if an intromission occurred than if one did not (Kuehn and Beach, 1963; Diakow, 1974). This finding suggests that stimuli provided by genital tract stimulation facilitate the lordosis response. If the genital tract is denervated, the prolongation of lordosis resulting from intromission does not occur (Diakow, 1970). The following studies, which focus on the effect of genital tract stimulation on lordosis, demonstrate not only that genital tract stimulation (a visceral stimulus) facilitates the effect of flank stimulation (a somatic stimulus) on lordosis, but also that this facilitating effect persists for several hours after the cessation of the stimulus. In contrast to the facilitating effect, the same genital tract stimulation abolishes different skeletal reflex responses (e.g., leg withdrawal to foot pinch). Furthermore, it blocks behavioral and neurophysiological responses to painful stimulation.


Reproductive Behavior Tactile Stimulation Septal Lesion Noxious Stimulation Painful Stimulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adler, N.T., 1969, Effects of the male’s copulatory behavior on successful pregnancy of the female rat, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 69:613–622.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adler, N.T., Resko, J.A., and Goy, R.W., 1970, The effect of copulatory behavior on hormonal change in the female rat prior to implantation, Physiol. Behav. 5:1003–1007.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aidar, O., Geohegan, W.A., and Ungewitter, L.H., 1952, Splanchnic afferent pathways in the central nervous system, J. Neurophysiol. 15:131–138.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Amassian, V.E., 1952, Interaction in the somatovisceral projection system, Res. Publ. Assoc. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 30:371–402.Google Scholar
  5. Anderson, E.E., 1936, Consistency of tests of copulatory frequency in the male albino rat, J. Comp. Psychol. 21:447–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Aron, Cl., Roos, J., and Asch, G., 1968, New facts concerning the afferent stimuli that trigger ovulation by coitus in the rat, Neuroendocrin. 3:47–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beach, F.A., 1942, Importance of progesterone to induction of sexual receptivity in spayed female rats, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 50:369–371.Google Scholar
  8. Beach, F.A., 1944, Effects of injury to the cerebral cortex upon sexually-receptive behavior in the female rat, Psychosom. Med. 6:40–55.Google Scholar
  9. Beach, F.A., 1966, Ontogeny of “coitus-related” reflexes in the female guinea pig, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 56:526–533.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Beach, F.A., 1967, Cerebral and hormonal control of reflexive mechanisms involved in copulatory behavior, Physiol. Rev. 47:289–316.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Bermant, G., 1961, Response latencies of female rats during sexual intercourse, Science 133:1771–1773.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bermant, G., and Westbrook, W.H., 1966, Peripheral factors in the regulation of sexual contact by female rats, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 61:244–250.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Beyer, C., and Sawyer, C.H., 1969, Hypothalamic unit activity related to control of the pituitary gland, in Frontiers in Neuro endocrinology (W.F. Ganong and L. Martini, eds.), pp. 255–287, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Blake, C.A., and Sawyer, C.H., 1972, Effects of vaginal stimulation on hypothalamic multiple-unit activity and pituitary LH release in the rat, Neuroendocrin. 10:358–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Blandau, R.J., Boling, J.L., and Young, W.C., 1941, The length of heat in the albino rat as determined by the copulatory response, Anat. Rec. 79:453–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Burke, R.E., Rudomin, P., Vyklicky, L., and Zajac, F.E., 1971, Primary afferent depolarization and flexion reflexes produced by radiant heat stimulation of the skin, J. Physiol. 213:185–214.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Carlson, R.R., and DeFeo, V.J., 1965, Role of the pelvic nerve vs. the abdominal sympathetic nerves in the reproductive function of the female rat, Endocrinology 77:1014–1022.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Carmichael, L., 1954, The onset and early development of behavior, in Manual of Child Psychology, 2nd ed. (L. Carmichael, ed.), pp. 60–185, John Wiley, & Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  19. Carter, C.S., and Schein, M.W., 1971, Sexual receptivity and exhaustion in the female golden hamster, Horm. Behav. 2:191–201.Google Scholar
  20. Clegg, M.T., and Doyle, L.L., 1967, Role in reproductive physiology of afferent impulses from the genitalia and other regions, in Neuro endocrinology (L. Martini and W.F. Ganong, eds.), Vol. II, pp. 1–17, Academic Press, New York/London.Google Scholar
  21. Clemens, L.G., Hiroi, M., and Gorski, R.A., 1969, Induction and facilitation of female mating behavior in rats treated neonatally with low doses of testosterone propionate, Endocrinology 84:1430–1438.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cohen, H., 1947, Visceral pain, Lancet: 6487–6488. Cross, B.A., 1959, Neurohypophyseal control of parturition, in Recent Progress in the Endocrinology of Reproduction (C.W. Lloyd, ed.), pp. 441–445, Academic Press, New York/London.Google Scholar
  23. Davidson, J.M., 1969, Effects of estrogen on the sexual behavior of male rats, Endocrinology 84:1365–1372.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Davidson, J.M., Smith E.R., Rodgers, C.H., and Bloch, G.J., 1968, Relative thresholds of behavioral and somatic responses to estrogen, Physiol. Behav. 3:227–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Diakow, C., 1970, Effects of genital desensitization on the mating pattern of female rats as determined by motion picture analysis (unpub. Ph.D. thesis, New York Univ.), Amer. Zool. 10:486 (abstr. #55).Google Scholar
  26. Diakow, C., 1974, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol, (in press).Google Scholar
  27. Diakow, C., Pfaff, D.W., and Komisaruk, B.R., 1973, Sensory and hormonal interactions in eliciting lordosis, Fed. Proc. 32:241 Abs (abstr #166).Google Scholar
  28. Diamond, M., 1972, Vaginal stimulation and progesterone in relation to pregnancy and parturition, Biol. Reprod. 6:281–287.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Doty, B.A., and Forkner, M.R., 1971, Alterations in pain thresholds and avoidance conditioning in rats with septal lesions, Neuropsychologia 9:325–330.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Downman, C.B.B., 1951, Cerebral destination of splanchnic afferent impulses, J. Physiol. 113:434–441.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Downman, C.B.B., 1955, Skeletal muscle reflexes of splanchnic and intercostal nerve origin in acute spinal and decerebrate cats, J. Neurophysiol. 18:217–235.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Duda, P., 1964a, Facilitatory and inhibitory effects of splanchnic afferentation on somatic reflexes, Physiol. Bohemosloveniea 12:137–141.Google Scholar
  33. Duda, P., 1964b, Localization of the splanchnic effect on somatic reflexes in the spinal cord, Physiol. Bohemoslovenica 13:142–146.Google Scholar
  34. Edmonds, S., Zoloth, S.R., and Adler, N.T., 1972, Storage of copulatory stimulation in the female rat, Physiol. Behav. 13:161–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Edwards, D.A., Whalen, R.E., and Nadler, R.D., 1968, Induction of estrus: estrogen-progesterone interactions, Physiol. Behav. 2:29–33.Google Scholar
  36. Everett, J.W., 1967, Provoked ovulation or long-delayed pseudopregnancy from coital stimuli in barbiturate-blocked rats, Endocrinology 80:145–154.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Feder, H.H., and Ruf, K.B., 1969, Stimulation of progesterone release and estrous behavior by ACTH in ovariectomized rodents, Endocrinology 84:171–174.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Fields, H.L., Partridge, L.D., Jr., and Winter, D.L., 1970, Somatic and visceral receptive field properties of fibers in ventral quadrant white matter of the cat spinal cord, J. Neurophysiol. 33:827–837.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Goldfoot, D.A., and Goy, R.W., 1970, Abbreviation of behavioral estrus in guinea pigs by coital and vagino-cervical stimulation, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 72:426–434.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Green, R., Luttge, W.G., and Whalen, R.E., 1970, Induction of receptivity in ovariectomized female rats by a single intravenous injection of estradiol-17b, Physiol Behav. 5:137–141PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hardy, D.F., and DeBold, J.F., 1972, Effects of coital Stimulation upon behavior of the female rat, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 28:400–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Harrington, R.E., Eggert, R.G., and Wilbur, R.D., 1967, Induction of ovulation in chlorpromazine-blocked rats, Endocrinology 81:877–881.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hays, R.L., and Vandemark, N.L., 1953, Effect of stimulation of the reproductive organs of the cow on the release of an oxytocin-like substance, Endocrinology 52:634–637.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Keefer, D.A., Stumpf, W.E., and Sar, M., 1973, Estrogen-topographical localization of estrogen-concentrating cells in the rat spinal cord following H-estradiol administration, Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 143:414–417.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Kollar, E.J., 1953, Reproduction in the female rat after pelvic nerve neurectomy, Anat. Rec. 115:641–658.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Komisaruk, B.R., 1971a, Induction of lordosis in ovariectomized rats by stimulation of the vaginal cervix: hormonal and neural interrelationships, in Steroid Hormones and Brain Function (C.H. Sawyer and R.A. Gorski, eds.), pp. 127–141, University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  47. Komisaruk, B.R., 1971b, Strategies in neuroendocrine neurophysiology, Amer. Zool. 11:741–754.Google Scholar
  48. Komisaruk, B.R., and Beyer, C., 1972, Differential antagonism, by MER-25, of behavioral and morphological effects of estradiol benzoate in rats, Horm. Behav. 3:63–70.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Komisaruk, B.R., and Diakow, C., 1973, Lordosis reflex intensity in rats in relation to the estrous cycle, ovariectomy, estrogen administration and mating behavior, Endocrinology 93:548–557.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Komisaruk, B. R., and Larsson, K., 1971, Suppression of a spinal and a cranial nerve reflex by vaginal or rectal probing in rats, Brain Res. 35:231–235.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Komisaruk, B.R., and Wallman, J., 1973, Blockage of pain responses in thalamic neurons by mechanical stimulation of the vagina in rats, Program and Abstracts, Society for Neuroscience, 3rd Annual Meeting, p. 315.Google Scholar
  52. Komisaruk, B.R., Adler, N.T., and Hutchison, J., 1972, Genital sensory field: enlargement by estrogen treatment in female rats, Science 178:1295–1298.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Komisaruk, B.R., Larsson, K., and Cooper, R., 1972, Intense lordosis in the absence of ovarian hormones after septal ablation in rats, Program and Abstracts, Society for Neuroscience, 2nd Annual Meeting, p. 230 (abstr. #51.10).Google Scholar
  54. Komisaruk, B.R., McDonald, P.G., Whitmoyer, D.I., and Sawyer, C.H., 1967, Effects of progesterone and sensory stimulation on EEG and neuronal activity in the rat, Exp. Neurol. 19:494–507.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Koster, R., 1943, Hormone factors in male behavior of the female rat, Endocrinology 33:337–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Kuehn, R.E., and Beach, F.A., 1963, Quantitative measurement of sexual receptivity in female rats, Behaviour 21:282–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Larsson, K., Feder, H.H., and Komisaruk, B.R., 1974, Role of the adrenal glands, repeated matings, and monoamines in lordosis behavior of rats, Pharm. Biochem. Behav. (in press).Google Scholar
  58. Lubar, J.F., Brener, J.M., Deagle, J.H., Numan, R., and Clemens, W.J., 1970, Effect of septal lesions on detection threshold and unconditioned response to shock, Physiol. Behav. 5:459–463.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mann, F., 1972, Acupuncture, Vintage Books/Random House, New York.Google Scholar
  60. McLeod, J.G., 1958, The representation of the splanchnic afferent pathways in the thalamus of the cat, J. Physiol. 140:462–478.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Melzack, R., and Wall, P.D., 1965, Pain mechanisms: a new theory, Science 150:971–979.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Moss, R.L., and McCann, S.M., 1973, Induction of mating behavior in rats by luteinizing hormone-releasing factor, Science 181:177–179.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Peiper, A., 1963, Cerebral Function in Infancy and Childhood, 3rd rev. ed. (B. Nagler and H. Nagler, trans.), International Behavioral Science Series, Consultants Bureau, New York.Google Scholar
  64. Peirce, J.T., and Nuttall, R.L., 1961, Self-paced sexual behavior in the female rat, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 54:310–313.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Pfaff, D.W., 1973, Luteinizing hormone-releasing factor potentiates lordosis behavior in hypophysectomized ovariectomized female rats, Science 182:1148–1149.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Pomeranz, B., Wall, P.D., and Weber, W.V., 1968, Cord cells responding to fine myelinated afferents from viscera, muscle and skin, J. Physiol. 199:511–532.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Powers, B., and Valenstein, E.S., 1972, Sexual receptivity: facilitation by medial preoptic lesions in female rats, Science 175:1003–1005.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Ramirez, V.D., Komisaruk, B.R., Whitmoyer, D.I., and Sawyer, C.H., 1967, Effects of hormones and vaginal stimulation of the EEG and hypothalamic units in rats, Amer. J. Physiol. 212:1376–1384.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Rexed, B., 1952, The cytoarchitectonic organization of the spinal cord in the cat, J. Comp. Neurol. 96:415–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rodriguez-Sierra, J.F., Crowley, W.R., and Komisaruk, B.R., 1974, Vaginal stimulation in rats induces prolonged lordosis responsivness and sexual receptivity, J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. (in press).Google Scholar
  71. Ruch, T.C., Pathophysiology of pain, 1961, in Neurophysiology (T.C. Ruch, H.D. Patton, J.W. Woodbury, and A.L. Towe, eds.), pp. 350–368, W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  72. Selzer, M., and Spencer, W.A., 1969a, Convergence of visceral and cutaneous afferent pathways in the lumbar spinal cord: Brain Res. 14:331–348.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Selzer, M., and Spencer, W.A., 1969b, Interaction between visceral and cutaneous afférents in the spinal cord:reciprocal primary afferent fiber depolarization, Brain Res. 14:349–366.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Spies, H.G., and Niswender, G.D., 1971, Levels of prolactin, LH, and FSH in the serum of intact and pelvic-neurectomized rats, Endocrinology 88:937–943.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Vyklicky, L., Rudomin, P., Zajac, F.E., and Burke, R.E., 1969, Primary afferent depolorization evoked by a painful stimulus, Science 165:184–186.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Warkentin, J., and Carmichael, L., 1939, A study of the development of the air-righting reflex in cats and rabbits, J. Genet. Psychol. 55:67–80.Google Scholar
  77. Weiss, S., and Davis, D., 1928, The significance of the afferent impulses from the skin in the mechanism of visceral pain. Skin infiltration as a useful therapeutic measure, Amer. J. Med. Sci. 176:517–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Young, W.C., Boling, J.L., and Blandau, R.J., 1941, The vaginal smear picture, sexual receptivity, and time of ovulation in the albino rat, Anat. Rec., 80:37–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Zarrow, M.X., and Clark, J.H., 1968, Ovulation following vaginal stimulation in a spontaneous ovulator and its implications, J. Endocrinol. 40:343–352.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry R. Komisaruk
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Animal BehaviorRutgers University, The State University of New JerseyNewarkUSA

Personalised recommendations