The neural basis of individual differences in behavior has been studied primarily by analyzing the properties of specific neural areas. However, because of the organization of the nervous system, it is also plausible that differences in behavior are mediated by differences in the interactivity or functional connectivity among brain nuclei in particular neural circuits. In the leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius, the temperature of the egg during incubation not only determines gonadal sex, but also shapes the sociosexual behaviors, reproductive physiology, and hormone sensitivity of adult animals. In this study the effects of both incubation temperature and gonadal sex on functional connectivity among limbic brain areas were examined. Functional connectivity was assessed by analyzing covariance patterns in metabolic capacity, as revealed by quantitative cytochrome oxidase histochemistry. It was hypothesized that incubation temperature and gonadal sex affect the propensity to display aggressive or sexual behaviors by altering the functional connectivity within relevant neural circuits. The correlations of metabolic capacity between the anterior hypothalamus and both the septum and preoptic area were significant only in relatively aggressive individuals, suggesting that these circuits may regulate the phenotypic variation in aggressiveness caused by incubation temperature. The correlations between the ventromedial hypothalamus and both the dorsal ventricular ridge and septum were significant only in females, suggesting that these circuits may modulate female-typical sexual behaviors. Correlations among preoptic, hypothalamic and amygdalar areas tended to be distributed across both sexes, suggesting that there may be shared pathways underlying the expression of male-typical and female-typical behaviors.

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