Menstrual cycle influences on operant behavior of female rhesus monkeys

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Nine female rhesus monkeys were paired with males throughout 63 menstrual cycles. The females' motivation to approach males was studied with an operant conditioning paradigm that required the female to press a lever 250 times to gain access to the male. Sexual behavior was scored during standard 60-min tests that followed the attainment of access (17 pairs; 1,440 tests). In the overall data, mean times to access were shortest at mid-cycle and longest just before and after the onset of menstruation, and a model-fitting method showed that 45% of cycles from individual pairs were significantly correlated with a V-shaped model of the overall pattern. Male sexual activity was highest at mid-cycle and lowest in the last quarter of the cycle, but the changes in access times could not be attributed entirely to the rewarding effects of the ejaculations. In the combined data from 5 females (9 pairs; 33 cycles), high estradiol levels and low progesterone levels were statistically associated with short access times and short ejaculation times. The overall effect was for operant performance and sexual activity to be synchronized and maximized in the periovulatory period of the menstrual cycle. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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