This study evaluated the effect of stress during puberty on sexual motivation and the correlation between serum testosterone levels (T) and the absolute power of the theta electroencephalographic rhythms, recorded in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and basolateral amygdala (BLA) of adult male rats. Thirty males of the stressed group (SG, housed 1 per cage from days 25-50) and 30 controls (CG, housed 5 per cage), were tested in copulatory interactions at 90 days of age. The above mentioned physiological parameters were obtained during the awake-quiet state in a sub-group without sexual motivation (WSM, n = 15, stimulated with a nonreceptive female) and a sub-group with sexual motivation (SM, n = 15, stimulated with a receptive-female). Pearson correlations (r) between these parameters were calculated for each sub-group and brain structure and then compared between sub-groups. SG presented higher mount and intromission latencies than CG. While CG-WSM showed a positive r between T levels and theta band (0.23-0.59), those CG-SM presented a negative r (-0.23 to -0.67). An r that tended towards zero (-0.31 to 0.29) was obtained in both stressed sub-groups. This study shows that pubertal stress suppresses the relation between serum T levels and theta rhythms in the mPFC and BLA in adult male rats. This is one of the first studies evaluating the association between these two physiological parameters specifically in the context of sexual motivation; thus increasing our understanding of the effect of pubertal stress on prefrontal-amygdaline functioning during the sexually-motivated state in male rats.
Keywords: EEG Prefrontal cortex Rats Sexual motivation Social isolation Testosterone