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Sounds and pheromones: neural networks merging olfactory and acoustic cues in sexual imprinting

In many species, mating preferences develop at an early age through a process of instinctive learning, known as sexual imprinting. Mice use olfactory and acoustic cues from parents to learn and form memories of conspecifics and close kin, which enables them to avoid heterospecific matings as adults. Surprisingly, however, almost nothing is known about the neural circuits and mechanisms governing sexual imprinting in mice or any other species.Our project aims to identify in mice where and how the neural circuits responsible for sexual imprinting are formed during postnatal development and whether olfactory and acoustic cues cooperate to shape these circuits and control the mating preferences as adults.The project relies on complementary disciplines: team 1 with expertise in neuroscience will lead the neuroanatomical and neurophysiological part; team 2 with expertise in light propagation in highly scattering media will develop the micro-endoscopic system for in vivo photons detection and signal processing analysis; team 3 with expertise in animal behavior and communication will direct the behavioral aspects on laboratory and wild mice
Neural networks and sexual imprinting
Coordination for vetmeduni vienna
Penn Dustin
Coordination in general
Serena Bovetti
Università degli Studi di Torino, Via Verdi, 8, 10124 Turin, Italy
Human Frontier Science Program
Type of Research
Basic research
Penn D.,
Zala S., Project team member
Vetmed Research Units
Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology
Projekt partner
Contact: Sylvain Gigan
École normale supèrieure, 45 rue dÙlm, 75230 Paris cedex 05, France
Funded by
International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO), 12 quai Saint Jean, 67080 Strasbourg, France
2 Publications

Penn, D (2021): Functions of sexual signals in wild house mice 19th SINS National Congress; SEP 9-11, 2021; Virtual, Italy. 2021.

Penn, Dustin J (2021): Sexual signaling in wildhouse mice Psychiatry and Neuroscience Seminar Series 2021; JUN 4, 2021; Paris, France. 2021.

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