Sex Differences in the Social Behavior Network and Mesolimbic Dopamine System

Gian D. Greenberg, Brian C. Trainor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


Sexual selection is based on differential investment in reproduction by males and females, and in most species of vertebrates females invest more energy in each individual offspring than males. Neurobiological systems controlling social behaviors have thus evolved under some form of sexual selection for millions of years. An evolutionarily conserved social behavior network consisting of hypothalamic and limbic brain nuclei contains several regions that are sexually dimorphic. Intriguingly, even nodes within this network that are not sexually dimorphic play a key role in mediating sex differences in behavior. In contrast, little anatomical sexual dimorphism is observed within the mesolimbic dopamine system. Nonetheless, important sex differences in dopamine functions have been identified. This chapter will review sex differences in the structure and function of these circuits and examine how social experience acting on these circuits induces long-term changes in behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSex Differences in the Central Nervous System
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9780128021149
ISBN (Print)9780128021989
StatePublished - Sep 29 2015


  • Aggression
  • Bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST)
  • Dopamine
  • Medial amygdala (MeA)
  • Nucleus accumbens (NAc)
  • Parental care
  • Stress
  • Ventral tegmental area (VTA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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