The main goal of our laboratory is to gain mechanistic insights into the neuronal processes underlying fundamental behaviors in females: the choice of a suitable mate and how to initiate and terminate sexual behavior. To do so, we use mice as model system and a combination of approaches that include physiological, anatomical and molecular tools to dissect the contribution of candidate brain areas to the emergence of these natural behaviors. Our long-term goal is to test the hypothesis that mate choice has an impact on the regulation of sexual behavior.
NeuroethologyLima Lab firstname.lastname@example.org
Female Receptivity and the Hypothalamus
Female mice, similar to females in other species, have normal fluctuations in their receptivity towards males, depending on the particular phase of the reproductive cycle. While males can be perceived as threats for a non-receptive female, the same individual will be accepted when the hormonal conditions of the female change. We are exploring, by performing extracellular recordings in the hypothalamus of freely moving females, how the orchestrated activity of neurons in this area can lead to a different behavioral output in response to males depending on the reproductive cycle.
Once receptive, females need to choose their mate, a process that involves acquiring information about available mates and which is dependent on prior experience. We have set up a behavioral paradigm to study assortative mate choice in the laboratory, and our results indicate that mate choice is set during early life. We are currently exploring novel avenues to understand how early experience affects neuronal circuits that might be involved in mate choice. Candidate brain areas that might be involved include the Islands of Calleja in the olfactory tubercle, a region that has been implicated in the rewarding aspects of olfactory stimuli.
Sexual Arousal Termination
Once the decision of whom to mate is made, females engage in sexual behavior, which like any other behavior will have to be terminated. We believe genital sensory input received during copulation if necessary for behavioral termination and so have been exploring which brain areas are the recipients of this information, in combination of detailed analysis of female sexual behavior. Our goal is to then manipulate these brain areas and hopefully disrupt sexual arousal in females.
Former lab members
Nomoto K, Lima SQ (2015) Enhanced Male-Evoked Responses in the Ventromedial Hypothalamus of Sexually Receptive Female Mice Curr. Biol. 25 (5), 589–594 (doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.12.048)
Zinck L, Lima SQ (2013) Mate Choice in Mus musculus Is Relative and Dependent on the Estrous State PLoS ONE 8 (6), e66064 (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066064)
Pereira AG, Cruz A, Lima SQ, Moita MA. (2012) Silence resulting from the cessation of movement signals danger Curr. Biol. 22 (16), R627-R628 (doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.06.015)
Lima SQ, Hromádka T, Znamenskiy P, Zador AM (2009) PINP: A New Method of Tagging Neuronal Populations for Identification during In Vivo Electrophysiological Recording. PLoS ONE 4 (7), e6099 (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.000609)
Lima SQ and Miesenbock G (2005) Remote control of fly behavior through genetically targeted photostimulation of neurons. Cell 121 (1), 141-52 (doi:10.1016/j.cell.2005.02.004)
Ng M, Roorda RD, Lima SQ, Zemelman BV, Morcillo P, Miesenbock G (2002) Transmission of olfactory information between three populations of neurons in the antennal lobe of the fly. Neuron 36 , 463-74 (doi:10.1016/S0896-6273(02)00975-3)