Sex Differences in the Social Behavior Network and Mesolimbic Dopamine System

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Book Chapter

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Sexual selection is based on differential investment in reproduction by males and females, and in most species of vertebrates females invest more energy in each individual offspring than males. Neurobiological systems controlling social behaviors have thus evolved under some form of sexual selection for millions of years. An evolutionarily conserved social behavior network consisting of hypothalamic and limbic brain nuclei contains several regions that are sexually dimorphic. Intriguingly, even nodes within this network that are not sexually dimorphic play a key role in mediating sex differences in behavior. In contrast, little anatomical sexual dimorphism is observed within the mesolimbic dopamine system. Nonetheless, important sex differences in dopamine functions have been identified. This chapter will review sex differences in the structure and function of these circuits and examine how social experience acting on these circuits induces long-term changes in behavior.

Chapter of

Sex Differences in the Central Nervous System


Rebecca M. Shansky