Susana Lima

Champalimaud Center for the Unknown

Neural Mechanisms Underlying State Dependent Modulation of Sexual Behavior

12:00 pm, Wednesday 16 March 2016

Location: Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, Tinsley Building, Mansfield Road, Oxford

Abstract: Sex is intrinsically rewarding but can also be costly, by increasing the risk of predation or infection. Therefore, it is not surprising that natural selection reinforced mechanisms which ensure that sexual behavior is initiated when fertilization is most likely and inhibited after consummation. In many species, this is achieved by placing ovulation and sexual receptivity under the control of sex hormones in females, and by the establishment of a refractory period after ejaculation in males. We study sexual behavior in mice, using a combination of electrophysiological and genetically encoded imaging and anatomical tools to understand how the coordinated activity of different neuronal populations underlies the flexible, state dependent modulation of this fundamental behavior. I will first present studies on the female ventromedial hypothalamus, a forebrain structure fundamental to the execution of lordosis, a mating posture that aids copulation. Second, I will review our recent efforts to understand the neural mechanisms underlying the male refractory period, during which sexual interest is greatly diminished.

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 Champalimuad Center for the Unknown. She became a principal investigator in 2013.