Female sexual behavior in rodents, termed lordosis, is controlled by facilitatory and inhibitory systems in the brain. It has been well demonstrated that a neural pathway from the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMN) to the midbrain central gray (MCG) is essential for facilitatory regulation of lordosis. The neural pathway from the arcuate nucleus to the VMN, via the medial preoptic nucleus, in female rats mediates transient suppression of lordosis, until female sexual receptivity is induced. In addition to this pathway, other regions are involved in inhibitory regulation of lordosis in female rats. The lordosis-inhibiting systems exist not only in the female brain but also in the male brain. The systems contribute to suppression of heterotypical sexual behavior in male rats, although they have the potential ability to display lordosis. The lateral septum (LS) exerts an inhibitory influence on lordosis in both female and male rats. This review focuses on the neuroanatomy and sex differences of the lordosis-inhibiting system in the LS. The LS functionally and anatomically links to the MCG to exert suppression of lordosis. Neurons of the intermediate part of the LS (LSi) serve as lordosis-inhibiting neurons and project axons to the MCG. The LSi-MCG neural connection is sexually dimorphic, and formation of the male-like LSi-MCG neural connection is affected by aromatized testosterone originating from the testes in the postnatal period. The sexually dimorphic LSi-MCG neural connection may reflect the morphological basis of sex differences in the inhibitory regulation of lordosis in rats.
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