A new animal study has revealed the process behind how females make the decision to choose their mating partners.
Researchers have identified that two small groups of neurons in the female brain that function to modulate whether she will mate or not with a male based on his distinct pheromones and courtship song.
Dr. Bruce Baker, from Howard Hughes Medical Institute, mentioned in one Neuron paper that an understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying how sensory information elicits appropriate sexual behaviors could be used as a point of comparison for how similar sexual behavior circuits are structured and function in other species.
Jennifer Bussell established in the Current Biology study that sexual courtship is a duet, the male and female send signals back and forth until they reach the point that copulation proceeds and pausing to interact with a male, rather than avoiding him, was a crucial step in any female's behavior leading to copulation, so tying a group of neurons to this particular response to males would allow them to dissect in detail how female mating circuitry functions.
Dr. Mark Palfreyman, from Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, expalined in another Neuron paper that according to them the sex peptide signal went to a region of the fly's brain that was the homolog of the hypothalamus, which has been know for many years to be central in controlling sexual receptivity in vertebrates.
The three different studies on the topic are published in the Cell Press journals Neuron and Current Biology.