Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Aras Petrulis - Chair

Second Advisor

Elliott Albers

Third Advisor

Matthew Grober


In Syrian hamsters, sexual preference requires integration of chemosensory and steroid cues. Although data suggest that separate pathways within the brain process these two signals, the functional significance of this separation is not well understood. Within the medial amygdala, the anterior region (MEa) receives input from the olfactory bulbs, whereas the posterodorsal region (MEpd) is sensitive to steroid hormones. Lesions of either the MEa or MEpd eliminated preference to investigate female over male odors. Importantly, males with MEpd lesions displayed decreased attraction toward female odors, suggesting a decrease in sexual motivation. In contrast, males with MEa lesions displayed high levels of investigation of both female and male odors, suggesting an inability to categorize the relevance of the odor stimuli. These results suggest that both the MEa and MEpd are critical for the expression of opposite-sex odor preference, although they appear to mediate distinct aspects of this behavior.


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Psychology Commons