Sexually monomorphic maps and dimorphic responses in rat genital cortex Lenschow, Constanze Copley, Sean Gardiner, Jayne M. Talbot, Zoe N. Vitenzon, Ariel Brecht, Michael 2016-01-27T19:35:59Z 2016-01-27T19:35:59Z 2015-09
dc.description Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2015. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Current Biology 26 (2016): 106-113, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.11.041. en_US
dc.description.abstract Mammalian external genitals show sexual dimorphism [1,2] and can change size and shape upon sexual arousal. Genitals feature prominently in the oldest pieces of figural art [3] and phallic depictions of penises informed psychoanalytic thought about sexuality [4, 5]. Despite this longstanding interest, the neural representations of genitals are still poorly understood [6]. In somatosensory cortex specifically, many studies did not detect any cortical representation of genitals [7-9]. Studies in humans debate, if genitals are represented displaced below the foot of the cortical body map [10-12], or if they are represented somatotopically [13-15]. We wondered, what a high-resolution mapping of genital representations might tell us about the sexual differentiation of the mammalian brain. We identified genital responses in rat somatosensory cortex in a region previously assigned as arm/leg cortex. Genital responses were more common in males than in females. Despite such response dimorphism, we observed a stunning anatomical monomorphism of cortical penis and clitoris input maps revealed by cytochrome-oxidasestaining of cortical layer-4. Genital representations were somatotopic, bilaterally symmetric and their relative size increased markedly during puberty. Size, shape and erect posture give the cortical penis representation a phallic appearance pointing to a role in sexually aroused states. Cortical genital neurons showed unusual multi-body-part responses and sexually dimorphic receptive fields. Specifically, genital neurons were coactivated by distant body regions, which are touched during mounting in the respective sex. Genital maps indicate a deep homology of penis and clitoris representations in line with a fundamentally bi-sexual layout [16] of the vertebrate brain. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship This work was supported by Marine Biological Laboratory, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and Neurocure. M.B. was a recipient of a Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. en_US
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.subject Somatosensory cortex en_US
dc.subject Sexual dimorphism en_US
dc.subject Monomorphism en_US
dc.subject Genitals en_US
dc.subject Penis en_US
dc.subject Clitoris en_US
dc.title Sexually monomorphic maps and dimorphic responses in rat genital cortex en_US
dc.type Preprint en_US
dspace.entity.type Publication
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