The [14C]2-deoxygIucose (2-DG) technique was used to study patterns of neural activity associated with the species-typical courtship behavior of male red-sided garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis). Males in this species court females intensely during the first month following spring emergence from their prolonged winter hibernation. Autoradiographic methods were used to measure the accumulation of radioactive label in various regions through the brains of male garter snakes that courted females, males that failed to court females, and males not exposed to females. Male garter snakes that actively courted females showed a pronounced increase in 2-DG accumulation, and therefore presumably neural activity, in the region of the anterior hypothalamus/preoptic area, relative to males that did not actively court females. Males exposed to females (regardless of whether they courted or not) showed widespread, non-specific increases in 2-DG uptake relative to males not exposed to females. The results indicate the utility of the 2-DG technique for studying complex, species-typical behaviors in vertebrates.

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