Is an increase in dopamine release in the medial preoptic area (mPOA) specifically related to male physical arousal and sexual behavior or does it have a bigger role in sexual motivation?
Kleitz-Nelson, Dominguez, Cornil & Ball (2010) investigated this question by using the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). The male quail does not an have an intromittent organ and therefore does not require an erection to successfully copulate. The researchers collected and measured the dopamine content from extracellular samples from the adult male quails’ mPOA every six minutes before, during and after exposure to a female quail.
What they found was that for male quails that copulated, their levels of extracellular dopamine increased dramatically past baseline levels (BL1-3) when the female quail was introduced (F1-F6) and decreased after the female quail was removed (POST1-POST6). Non-copulators did not exhibit an increase in extracellular dopamine levels.
In addition, for copulators, the researchers did not find any changes in extracellular dopamine levels between sampling periods during which the quails either engaged in the actual mating behavior or not. That is to say, during the sampling period, regardless of whether the male quail was engaging in coitus or not, their levels of extracellular dopamine levels showed increased levels as long as they are in the presence of the female.
Kleitz-Nelson, H., Dominguez, J., Cornil, C., & Ball, G. (2010). Is sexual motivational state linked to dopamine release in the medial preoptic area? Behavioral Neuroscience, 124 (2), 300-304 DOI: 10.1037/a0018767