|The influence of tyrosine hydroxylase neurons on pair-bonding behaviors of a socially monogamous rodent|
|James B Lichter1, Matthew S McMurray2, Brian Keane3, Nancy G Solomon1. 1Department of Biology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, United States; 2Department of Psychology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, United States; 3Department of Biological Sciences, Miami University, Hamilton, Ohio, United States
The degree of social monogamy and pair-bonding, as observed in birds and mammals, is influenced by neurophysiological pathways, such as the dopamine system. In prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster), characterized as a socially monogamous rodent species, the dopamine and norepinephrine producing pathways can be studied using tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a rate limiting factor in the production of dopamine. The posterior bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and the medial amygdala (MeA) contain populations of TH positive neurons, which are absent in polygamous meadow voles (M. pennsylvanicus). This difference suggests that TH neurons in these brain areas might be present or differentially activated only in males that are pair-bonded. We tested whether TH positive neurons within the pair-bonding neural network accurately predicted pair bonding in male prairie voles. We obtained 22 paired males and 25 unpaired male prairie voles from our semi-natural populations to examine differences in TH within the BNST, MeA and ventral tegmental area. Results will be discussed.