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      Integrating Neural Circuits Controlling Female Sexual Behavior

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          Abstract

          The hypothalamus is most often associated with innate behaviors such as is hunger, thirst and sex. While the expression of these behaviors important for survival of the individual or the species is nested within the hypothalamus, the desire (i.e., motivation) for them is centered within the mesolimbic reward circuitry. In this review, we will use female sexual behavior as a model to examine the interaction of these circuits. We will examine the evidence for a hypothalamic circuit that regulates consummatory aspects of reproductive behavior, i.e., lordosis behavior, a measure of sexual receptivity that involves estradiol membrane-initiated signaling in the arcuate nucleus (ARH), activating β-endorphin projections to the medial preoptic nucleus (MPN), which in turn modulate ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH) activity—the common output from the hypothalamus. Estradiol modulates not only a series of neuropeptides, transmitters and receptors but induces dendritic spines that are for estrogenic induction of lordosis behavior. Simultaneously, in the nucleus accumbens of the mesolimbic system, the mating experience produces long term changes in dopamine signaling and structure. Sexual experience sensitizes the response of nucleus accumbens neurons to dopamine signaling through the induction of a long lasting early immediate gene. While estrogen alone increases spines in the ARH, sexual experience increases dendritic spine density in the nucleus accumbens. These two circuits appear to converge onto the medial preoptic area where there is a reciprocal influence of motivational circuits on consummatory behavior and vice versa. While it has not been formally demonstrated in the human, such circuitry is generally highly conserved and thus, understanding the anatomy, neurochemistry and physiology can provide useful insight into the motivation for sexual behavior and other innate behaviors in humans.

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          Most cited references 147

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          The debate over dopamine's role in reward: the case for incentive salience.

          Debate continues over the precise causal contribution made by mesolimbic dopamine systems to reward. There are three competing explanatory categories: 'liking', learning, and 'wanting'. Does dopamine mostly mediate the hedonic impact of reward ('liking')? Does it instead mediate learned predictions of future reward, prediction error teaching signals and stamp in associative links (learning)? Or does dopamine motivate the pursuit of rewards by attributing incentive salience to reward-related stimuli ('wanting')? Each hypothesis is evaluated here, and it is suggested that the incentive salience or 'wanting' hypothesis of dopamine function may be consistent with more evidence than either learning or 'liking'. In brief, recent evidence indicates that dopamine is neither necessary nor sufficient to mediate changes in hedonic 'liking' for sensory pleasures. Other recent evidence indicates that dopamine is not needed for new learning, and not sufficient to directly mediate learning by causing teaching or prediction signals. By contrast, growing evidence indicates that dopamine does contribute causally to incentive salience. Dopamine appears necessary for normal 'wanting', and dopamine activation can be sufficient to enhance cue-triggered incentive salience. Drugs of abuse that promote dopamine signals short circuit and sensitize dynamic mesolimbic mechanisms that evolved to attribute incentive salience to rewards. Such drugs interact with incentive salience integrations of Pavlovian associative information with physiological state signals. That interaction sets the stage to cause compulsive 'wanting' in addiction, but also provides opportunities for experiments to disentangle 'wanting', 'liking', and learning hypotheses. Results from studies that exploited those opportunities are described here. In short, dopamine's contribution appears to be chiefly to cause 'wanting' for hedonic rewards, more than 'liking' or learning for those rewards.
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            Dopamine receptors: from structure to function.

            The diverse physiological actions of dopamine are mediated by at least five distinct G protein-coupled receptor subtypes. Two D1-like receptor subtypes (D1 and D5) couple to the G protein Gs and activate adenylyl cyclase. The other receptor subtypes belong to the D2-like subfamily (D2, D3, and D4) and are prototypic of G protein-coupled receptors that inhibit adenylyl cyclase and activate K+ channels. The genes for the D1 and D5 receptors are intronless, but pseudogenes of the D5 exist. The D2 and D3 receptors vary in certain tissues and species as a result of alternative splicing, and the human D4 receptor gene exhibits extensive polymorphic variation. In the central nervous system, dopamine receptors are widely expressed because they are involved in the control of locomotion, cognition, emotion, and affect as well as neuroendocrine secretion. In the periphery, dopamine receptors are present more prominently in kidney, vasculature, and pituitary, where they affect mainly sodium homeostasis, vascular tone, and hormone secretion. Numerous genetic linkage analysis studies have failed so far to reveal unequivocal evidence for the involvement of one of these receptors in the etiology of various central nervous system disorders. However, targeted deletion of several of these dopamine receptor genes in mice should provide valuable information about their physiological functions.
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              Abnormal spine morphology and enhanced LTP in LIMK-1 knockout mice.

              In vitro studies indicate a role for the LIM kinase family in the regulation of cofilin phosphorylation and actin dynamics. In addition, abnormal expression of LIMK-1 is associated with Williams syndrome, a mental disorder with profound deficits in visuospatial cognition. However, the in vivo function of this family of kinases remains elusive. Using LIMK-1 knockout mice, we demonstrate a significant role for LIMK-1 in vivo in regulating cofilin and the actin cytoskeleton. Furthermore, we show that the knockout mice exhibited significant abnormalities in spine morphology and in synaptic function, including enhanced hippocampal long-term potentiation. The knockout mice also showed altered fear responses and spatial learning. These results indicate that LIMK-1 plays a critical role in dendritic spine morphogenesis and brain function.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Syst Neurosci
                Front Syst Neurosci
                Front. Syst. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1662-5137
                08 June 2017
                2017
                : 11
                Affiliations
                1Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, Department of Neurobiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA, United States
                2Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA, United States
                3Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN, United States
                Author notes

                Edited by: Joel D. Hahn, University of Southern California, United States

                Reviewed by: Raúl G. Paredes, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico; Jorge Medina, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

                *Correspondence: Paul E. Micevych pmicevych@ 123456mednet.ucla.edu
                Article
                10.3389/fnsys.2017.00042
                5462959
                Copyright © 2017 Micevych and Meisel.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 155, Pages: 12, Words: 10904
                Funding
                Funded by: National Institutes of Health 10.13039/100000002
                Award ID: DA013185
                Award ID: HD042635
                Award ID: DA013680
                Funded by: National Science Foundation 10.13039/100000001
                Award ID: IOS 1256799
                Categories
                Neuroscience
                Review

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