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Androgenic Effects on Hypothalamic Asymmetry in a Sexually Differentiated Nucleus Related to Vocal Behavior in Mongolian Gerbils

Hormones and Behavior
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1006/hbeh.1996.0067


Abstract The relationship between courtship ultrasound emission rates and the volume of a discrete, sex-related, hypothalamic nucleus, the sexually dimorphic area, pars compacta (SDApc), in male and neonatally androgenized female gerbils is lateralized. Unbiased stereological estimates of neuron number and nuclear and neuropil volume are also laterally asymmetric in male SDApcs. In this study sexual differentiation and lateral asymmetry of stereologically assessed cytoarchitectural SDApc components, and their relationship to male-typical behaviors, including vocal emission, were examined in masculinized females. Female neonates received a single injection of testosterone propionate (TP) or control vehicle (Control) and were then implanted with silastic cannulae of testosterone at 65 days of age. Total SDApc volume, neuron number, nuclear volume, and neuropil volume had significantly greater values in TP compared to Control females. Neuron number was laterally asymmetric in TP females, since the left SDApc contained a greater number of smaller neurons, possibly interneurons, than the right. Courtship vocal emission and two other behaviors were masculinized in TP females. Left SDApc total volume and, most significantly, left neuron number, were correlated with vocal rates. No other lateralized correlations between behaviors and stereological estimates were found. It was concluded that various stereological parameters and the lateralization of vocal behavior and brain asymmetry depend on the early sexually differentiating effects of androgens. It is suggested that in gerbils, androgens have a role in the survival of interneurons in a laterally asymmetric hypothalamic nucleus which is an index of vocal control.

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