New paper: the pauses during sex

In Snoerenlab, we are very passionate about studying animal behavior in great depth. In our opinion, a thorough understanding of the patterns and structures of complex behavior, such as sexual behavior, is absolutely necessary for the formation of new hypotheses about how the brain regulates the behavior. In the recent decades, many new methods have been developed to study and manipulate the activity of neurons in specific brain regions. The description and analysis of behavioral results in studies using these techniques are often oversimplified. This leads to many missed opportunities in advancing our understanding of the relation between the brain and behavior. Therefore, we decided it was time to up the game for studies of sexual behavior in male rats, focusing on the behavioral organization of the pauses during sex in our latest paper which is now published in Behavioural Processes.

For this study, we joined forces with Fay Guarraci in the U.S. and Jocelien Olivier in the Netherlands, so that we could test our hypothesis in three different groups of rats. Our results showed that the duration of pauses before and after ejaculation in a sexual encounter are strongly related within each individual rat. In addition, the duration of a pause is longer when the immediately preceding sexual stimulation was stronger. When we look at the second ejaculation, we see that both the pauses before and after ejaculation are longer than those before and after the first ejaculation. Together, these findings lead to the new hypothesis that pauses before and after ejaculation may be regulated by a similar sex inhibition mechanism in the brain. So, our detailed study of behavior has provided pillars for future research that aims to unravel the neuronal mechanisms of sex pauses.

This research was funded by the Research Council of Norway.


[Summary by Patty]


Huijgens PT, Guarraci FA, Olivier JDA, Snoeren EMS. Male rat sexual behavior: Insights from inter-copulatory intervals. Behavioural Processes. 2021. doi:

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created: 16.07.2021 17:07