Forgetful male voles more likely to wander from mate | Science News



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Forgetful male voles more likely to wander from mate

Study shows link between brain molecules, memory and promiscuity

5:00pm, December 14, 2015
prairie vole

MEMORY LOSS  Male prairie voles that have a hard time remembering where their nests are and where aggressive males live meet more potential mates (female and her pups shown) than other voles. 

Poor memory could lead monogamous male prairie voles to stray, a new study suggests.

Male prairie voles with low levels of a molecule in the part of the brain related to spatial memory wandered more and encountered more females (and thus potential mates) than other males, researchers report December 11 in Science. The molecule, a receptor that sits on the surface of brain cells and changes cell activity when bound to the hormone vasopressin, has previously been associated with social behavior in voles and seems to play a part in male vole forgetfulness. Low levels of the receptor, called V1aR, may spur the male vole to be more promiscuous, say scientists, who also linked lower levels of V1aR to a certain version of the gene for the receptor.

Prairie voles are among the less than 5 percent of animals that live a monogamous lifestyle. But a “faithful” monogamous

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