Men and women exhibit differences in sexual behavior. This indicates that neural circuits within the central nervous system (CNS) that control sexual behavior differ between the sexes, although differences in behavior are also influenced by sociocultural and hormonal factors. Sexual differentiation of the body and brain occurs during the embryonic and neonatal periods in humans and persists into adulthood with relatively low plasticity. Male sexual behavior is complex and depends on intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including olfactory, somatosensory and visceral cues. Many advances in our understanding of sexually dimorphic neural circuits have been achieved in animal models, but major issues are yet to be resolved. This review summarizes the sexually dimorphic nuclei controlling male sexual function in the rodent CNS and focuses on the interactions of the brain-spinal cord neural networks controlling male sexual behavior. Possible factors that relate findings from animal studies to human behavior are also discussed.
- Brain-spinal cord neural circuits
- Male sexual behavior
- Sex steroids
- Sexual dimorphism
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