Susana Lima

Champalimaud Centre for teh Unknown, Lisbon, Portugal

Should I mate or should I go: cyclical control of female rejection behaviour

12:00 pm, Tuesday 16 April 2024

Location: Sherrington Library, Sherrington Building

Abstract:    Cyclic fluctuations in sex hormone levels intricately coordinate female sexual behavior with reproductive capacity, notably demonstrated in rodents where females only accept copulation attempts during their fertile phase. Outside this window, copulation is not only hindered by low receptivity but also actively rejected. Despite extensive research on female receptivity, rejection behavior has been largely overlooked, often dismissed as a lack of receptivity. Here I will describe a novel circuit dedicated to the cyclical control of rejection behavior situated in the ventromedial hypothalamus. Our findings suggest that a female’s sexual response to copulation attempts throughout the reproductive cycle arises from two distinct processes: receptivity and rejection. These processes are governed by separate and spatially segregated hypothalamic populations, whose activity is modulated by the reproductive cycle in a bidirectional and opposing manner.

Biography:    Susana Lima completed her PhD at Yale in 2005 (under the supervision of Gero Miesenböck) and was subsequently a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (in Tony Zador’s group) and a research fellow at Champalimaud Center for the Unknown. She became a principal investigator in 2013. Her research combines behavioral, neurophysiological and genetic approaches to study the neural circuits involved in sexual behavior.