We examined the effects of prior sexual experience on extracellular concentrations of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens of female hamsters. Nucleus accumbens dopamine was measured by in vivo microdialysis during mating in female Syrian hamsters that had previously been given six prior sexual encounters with a male, three prior encounters, or were sexually naive. High levels of sexual behavior were observed in all three groups, which were accompanied by increases in dialysate dopamine during periods when the male was present. However, females that received six prior sexual encounters had significantly elevated and prolonged increases in dialysate dopamine compared with those of the sexually naive females or females with only three prior sexual encounters with a male. The data indicate that the mesolimbic system can be sensitized by repeated experiences associated with a motivated behavior.
- Ventral tegmentum