Faculty Profiles

Michael Baum

Michael Baum

Professor of Biology

PhD, McGill University
Areas of Interest: behavioral neuroendocrinology, neurobiology
(617) 353-3009

Current Research

My research concerns mechanisms controlling the perinatal sexual differentiation and adult activation of neural circuits that control courtship behaviors in mice.  One project uses transgenic mice in which the Cyp-19 (aromatase) gene has been disabled to study the role of the sex hormone, estradiol, in the differentiation of female-typical aspects of courtship behavior, including neural responses to conspecifics’ pheromones.  Another project concerns the interaction between the main and accessory olfactory nervous systems in the control of mate recognition and sexual motivation in male and female mice.  Techniques that I use include brain immunocytochemistry to localize neuronal immediate-early gene products, steroid hormone receptors and several neuropeptides; in situ hybridization autoradiography to localize and quantify mRNAs for pheromone receptors in the vomeronasal organ; the quantitative analysis of appetitive and consummatory mating behaviors as well as operant methods for assessing animals' ability to detect pheromones as well as their sexual partner preferences; brain infusions of neurotoxins, tract tracers and neuropeptides to study the olfactory mechanisms controlling sociosexual behaviors; and new optogenetic methods for selectively activating or silencing main vs accessory bulb neurons thought to convey pheromonal information to the forebrain.


  1. Dr. James Cherry, Dept. of Psychology, Boston University

  2. Dr. Julie Bakker, Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Liege, Belgium

Courses Taught

  • BI 545 Neurobiology of motivated behavior
  • BI 230 Behavioral endocrinology

Selected Publications

  • Korzan WJ, Freamat M, Johnson AG, Cherry JA, Baum MJ (2013) Either main or accessory olfactory system signaling can mediate the rewarding effects of estrous female chemosignals in sexually naïve male mice. Behavioral Neuroscience [Epub ahead of print]
  • DiBenedictis BT, Ingraham KL, Baum MJ, Cherry JA (2012) Disruption of urinary odor preference and lordosis behavior in female mice given lesions of the medial amygdala. Physiology and Behavior, 105:554-559.
  • Brock O, Baum MJ, Bakker J (2011) The development of female sexual behavior requires prepubertal estradiol. Journal of Neuroscience, 31:5574-5578.
  • Martel KL, Baum, MJ (2009) Adult testosterone treatment but not surgical disruption of vomeronasal function augments male-typical sexual behavior in female mice. Journal of Neuroscience, 29:7658-7666.
  • Kang N, Baum MJ, Cherry JA (2009) A direct main olfactory bulb projection to the ‘vomeronasal’ amygdala in female mice selectively responds to volatile pheromones from males. European Journal of Neuroscience, 29:624-634.
  • Martel KL, Baum MJ (2007) Sexually dimorphic activation of the accessory, but not the main, olfactory bulb in mice by urinary volatiles. European Journal of Neuroscience, 26, 463-475.
  • Alekseyenko OV, Baum MJ, Cherry JA (2006) Sex and gonadal steroid modulation of pheromone receptor gene expression in the mouse vomeronasal organ. Neuroscience, 140, 1349-1357.
  • Baum MJ (2006) Mammalian animal models of psychosexual differentiation: When is ‘translation’ to the human situation possible? Hormones and Behavior, 50, 579-588.