Forebrain c-fos expression under conditions conducive to pair bonding in female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster)

J. Thomas Curtis, Zuoxin Wang

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Repeated mating over a period of 6 h facilitates pair-bond formation in monogamous prairie voles. Using this paradigm, we examined fos expression in brain areas implicated in social behavior in voles. We hypothesized that the presence of the fos protein after a period of time sufficient for pair bonding to occur may indicate brain areas that are especially important in pair bond formation. We found elevated levels of fos immunoreactivity in the medial and cortical amygdala, medial preoptic area (MPOA), and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) in females that mated several times over a 6-h period as compared to a variety of unmated controls. No treatment effects were found in the central amygdala, nucleus accumbens (NAcc), or lateral septum (LS). We suggest that areas that show evidence of fos expression after sufficient time for pair bonding to occur may be important in the formation of associations between the partner and mating stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-101
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2003



  • Amygdala
  • BNST
  • Fos
  • Lateral septum
  • MPOA
  • Mating
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Social attachment

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