The expression of c-fos, a marker of neuronal activation, was examined in the gracile nucleus (GN) and nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) after social interactions, including mating, between male and female prairie voles. In GN, mating, but not non-sexual interactions, induced similar significant increases in c-fos immunoreactivity in both males and females. The increased immunoreactivity was concentrated in medial and dorsal GN suggesting that expression was driven by stimulation of reproductive organs. In contrast, in NTS, mating-induced increases in c-fos expression occurred only in males. These results suggest that both GN and NTS comprise different functional components of mating circuitry and may contribute to pair bonding in monogamous voles.
- Nucleus of the solitary tract
- Pair bonding