Effect of Testosterone on Neurogenesis in the Hippocampus of the Side-blotched Lizard, Uta stansburiana
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The hippocampus is the area of the brain that is responsible for learning in vertebrates. Having adequate spatial learning ability is critical for survival because it enables animals to remember resource locations, find mates, and navigate. Various spatial learning demands placed on the brain through different tasks have been shown to affect hippocampal morphology. Hormones have been implicated as one potential mechanism that can affect hippocampal morphology and consequently spatial learning ability. Manipulation of testosterone has been shown to affect spatial use and home range size in side-blotch lizards (Uta stansburiana), known for their variation in territory size and mating strategies. However, it remains unclear if these changes were mediated through the effects of testosterone on hippocampal morphology or processes. Adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus has been previously reported to occur in the adult vertebrate brain and has been linked with spatial learning. We hypothesized that testosterone-mediated changes in spatial use strategies occur via changes in adult hippocampal neurogenesis rates. We specifically predicted that experimental increases in testosterone levels should directly affect hippocampal neurogenesis rates, yet our results indicated no testosterone related changes in neurogenesis rates.