Sex differences in behaviour extend to cognitive-like processes such as learning, but the underlying dimorphisms in neural circuit development and organization that generate these behavioural differences are largely unknown. Here we define at the single-cell level—from development, through neural circuit connectivity, to function—the neural basis of a sex-specific learning in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We show that sexual conditioning, a form of associative learning, requires a pair of male-specific interneurons whose progenitors are fully differentiated glia.
Researchers have found that the male brain is hardwired to seek out sex, even at the expense of a good meal, with specific neurons firing up to over-ride the desire to eat.
Intriguingly, women do not have the same neurons, suggesting that sex for females comes secondary to sustenance.
Although the neurons have only been found in the brains of nematode worms, scientists at University College London say that it is likely that similar mechanisms are at work in humans.
If these mechanisms exist in humans too, then it lends credence to the principle that reproduction is prioritized over homeostasis in the human animal.