Vomeronasal organ: critical role in mediating sexual behavior of the male hamster

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Science  14 Mar 1975:
Vol. 187, Issue 4180, pp. 961-963
DOI: 10.1126/science.1145182


Sexual behavior in male hamsters is totally abolished by bilateral removal of the olfactory bulbs. This operation eliminates sensory input from both the olfactory and the vomeronasal systems. We previously demonstrated that peripheral destruction of the olfactory receptors caused anosmia but did not impair male hamster mating behavior. Here we demonstrate that peripheral deafferentation of the vomeronasal system produces severe sexual behavior deficits in approximately one-third of the treated animals. Combined deafferentation of both the vomeronasal and the olfactory systems eliminates copulation in 100 percent of the animals. This is the first experimental demonstration of a functional role for the vomeronasal organ in a mammalian species.