PerspectivePhysiology

She Said No, Pass Me a Beer

Science  16 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6074, pp. 1309-1310
DOI: 10.1126/science.1220225

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Summary

Sex is widely recognized as rewarding across the animal kingdom, but rejection of sexual advances or even deprivation can have negative effects. Behavioral studies indicate that sex can be positive—that is, viewed as a reward—in some learning experiments. Rejection of a sexual advance can also have lasting effects on physiology and behavior. How the success or failure of courtship behaviors are linked to other behaviors has been difficult to address. On page 1351 of this issue Shohat-Ophir et al. (1) assess the connection between the rewarding properties of sex and the effects of sex deprivation in the fly Drosophila melanogaster. The authors discover a neural system defined by a specific neuropeptide that unexpectedly couples courtship rejection or sex deprivation to a rewarding behavior—ethanol consumption.