An appetite for aggressive behavior? Female rats, too, derive reward from winning aggressive interactions

Stina Börchers, Jil Carl, Katharina Schormair, Jean Philippe Krieger, Mohammed Asker, Christian E. Edvardsson, Elisabeth Jerlhag, Karolina P. Skibicka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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While aggression is an adaptive behavior mostly triggered by competition for resources, it can also in and of itself be rewarding. Based on the common notion that female rats are not aggressive, much of aggression research has been centered around males, leading to a gap in the understanding of the female aggression neurobiology. Therefore, we asked whether intact virgin female rats experience reward from an aggressive interaction and assessed aggression seeking behavior in rats of both sexes. To validate the involvement of reward signaling, we measured mesolimbic dopamine turnover and determined the necessity of dopamine signaling for expression of aggression-seeking. Together our data indicate that female rats exhibit aggressive behavior outside of maternal context, experience winning aggressive behaviors as rewarding, and do so to a similar extent as male rats and in a dopamine-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number331
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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