SICB Annual Meeting 2017
January 4-8, 2017
New Orleans, LA

Symposium: Integrating Cognitive, Motivational and Sensory Biases Underlying Acoustic and Multimodal Mate Choice

A standard, yet simple, construct has emerged for understanding the basis of female mate choice decision-making and the flexibility that arises in females’ responses to males. This standard construct typically distinguishes between sensory- and learning-based categories as the major mechanisms that shape female mate choice. The sensory-based mechanisms of mate choice include both peripheral and central nervous system regulation and have been discussed as lacking plasticity. On the other hand, the learning-based mechanisms of mate choice include only central nervous system regulation and require experience-dependent neural plasticity. Sensory and learning-based mechanisms of female mate choice are well-established with converging support arising from an array of vertebrates including fish, birds, amphibians and mammals. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that social behaviors in vertebrates are guided by diverse neural processes and pathways, of which sensory and learning components are only pieces of a larger puzzle. The underlying mechanisms of any social behavior (and mate choice should be no exception) can be compartmentalized into four processes: sensory, cognitive, emotional and motivational. While our understanding of these components as applied to mate choice decision-making lags behind our understanding of these four mechanisms applied to other social behaviors, there are a few key insights that have emerged so far. First, it is clear and well established across multiple vertebrates and multiple sensory systems that sensory processing is plastic and in some cases, this plasticity in sensory processing can be linked to changes in social behavior, including mate choice. Second, the cognitive processes underlying mate choice are not limited to learning or experience-related processes. Cognitive processes involved in mate choice also include selective attention, signal memorability and categorization. Finally, the neuromodulators that mediate sensory modulation are the same set of neuromodulators that modify other components of social behaviors such as motivation and cognition. Neuromodulators that concurrently modify sensory systems as well as cognitive, motivational and signal salience may serve as a means of simultaneously modifying how a female perceives “just noticeable differences” among signals as well as how she defines “just meaningful differences” in these signals. If this is the case, neuromodulators may serve as a link that unifies the neural pathways underlying mate choice behavior and possibly additional social behaviors. The goal of this symposium is to piece together various studies to develop a more comprehensive framework to describe the neural bases of mate choice decision-making and to discuss necessary future directions such as the need to understand the neurobiological basis of mate choice in multimodal signaling contexts which will help move this field into developing a fully comprehensive framework describing the female mate choice brain.

Sponsors: DAB, DCE & DNB
The National Science Foundation's Sociogenomics Research Coordination Network


  • Kathleen Lynch
  • Scott MacDougall-Shackleton


S6-1 Friday, Jan. 6, 08:00 LYNCH, Kathleen S.: Understanding receiver biases in reproductive contexts

S6-2 Friday, Jan. 6, 08:30 FORLANO, P.M.: Roles for dopamine in peripheral auditory sensitivity and motivation for mate localization in a vocal fish

S6-3 Friday, Jan. 6, 09:00 HOKE, K.L.*; SHIZUKA, D; HEBETS, E.A.; HOKE, Kim: Viewing social behavior through the lens of neural circuitry for target-action selection

S6-4 Friday, Jan. 6, 10:00 CHOLERIS, E*; KAVALIERS, M: Neurobiology of Mate Choice and Social Recognition in Rodents,

S6-5 Friday, Jan. 6, 10:30 SOCKMAN, K.W.*; LYONS, S.M.: How song experience affects female mate-choice, male song, and monoaminergic activity in the songbird auditory telencephalon

S6-6 Friday, Jan. 6, 11:00 RITERS, LV: Female motivational state and the rewarding properties of hearing male courtship song

s6-7 Friday, Jan. 6, 11:30 BURMEISTER, S.S.: The Preoptic Area as a Gatekeeper to Mate Choice in Frogs

S6-8 Friday, Jan. 6, 13:30 TAYLOR, Ryan C.*; HUNTER, Kimberly L.: Timing is everything: Audio-visual integration of signals in the túngara frog

S6-9 Friday, Jan. 6, 14:00 RODRIGUEZ-SALTOS, CA: Before songbirds are senders, they are receivers

S6-10 Friday, Jan. 6, 14:30 TOMASZYCKI, M.L.*; ATCHLEY, D.; TOMASZYCKI, Michelle: Nonapeptides, Vocal Communication, and Social Relationships

S6-11 Friday, Jan. 6, 15:00 PHELPS, SM*; GIGLIO, E; BURKHARD, T: Sing Out Loud: A Signaler\'s Perspective on Condition Dependence