Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Anatomy and Cell Biology


Dr. Lique Coolen

Second Advisor

Dr. Micheál Lehman

Third Advisor

Dr. Dan Belliveau


Male sexual behaviour is a rewarding behaviour with ejaculation being the most reinforcing component. However, the neural pathways that process and relay ejaculation-specific sensory information and mediate sexual reward are currently unknown. A candidate spinothalamic pathway has recently been discovered to be in the position to process and relay ejaculatory-related cues from the reproductive organs to the brain. This pathway consists of a population of lumbar spinothalamic cells projecting to an area of the thalamus, known as the medial parvocellular subparafascicular thalamic nucleus, and expresses several neuropeptides, including galanin and cholecystokinin. The current study demonstrates that this spinothalamic pathway and galanin, but not cholecystokinin, is essential for processing of ejaculatory-related information and sexual reward and potentially contributes to sexual satiety. These findings form a major step towards a better understanding of sensory pathways to reward and satiety and provide a functional role for a spinothalamic pathway related to sexual reward.



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