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Excerpts From Scientific Journals & Studies
Men were rated more attractive when assessed by women who had been exposed to androstadienone, an effect that was seen in two out of three studies. The results suggest that androstadienone can influence women's attraction to men, and also that research into the modulatory effects of androstadienone should be made within ecologically valid contexts.
Several studies indicate that humans indeed seem to use olfactory communication and are even able to produce and perceive certain pheromones; recent studies have found that pheromones may play an important role in the behavioural and reproduction biology of humans. In this article we review the present evidence of the effect of human pheromones and discuss the role of olfactory cues in human sexual behaviour.
Forty normal female subjects were randomized in a double-blind manner to receive either control or 100 pg of androstadienone directly to the vomeronasal organ. We report that administration of this steroid under these conditions results in a significant reduction of nervousness, tension and other negative feeling states. Concordant changes were observed in autonomic physiology.
In both sexes, facial attractiveness (as judged from photos) appears to predict body scent attractiveness to the opposite sex. Women's preference for the scent associated with men's facial attractiveness is greatest when their fertility is highest across the menstrual cycle. The results overall suggest that women have an evolved preference for sires with good genes.
Recent work has demonstrated that exposure to nonodorous testosterone and estrogen derivatives can activate specific human brain regions and induce sexual effects. These effects seem to be sex-specific: Testosterone derivatives affect women, and estrogen derivatives affect men.
The effect of sensory input on hormones is essential to any explanation of mammalian behavior, including aspects of physical attraction. The chemical signals we send have direct and developmental effects on hormone levels in other people. Since we don't know either if, or how, visual cues might have direct and developmental effects on hormone levels in other people, the biological basis for the development of visually perceived human physical attraction is currently somewhat questionable. In contrast, the biological basis for the development of physical attraction based on chemical signals is well detailed.
Species also release chemical signals into the environment to communicate their presence and to evoke behavioural responses in other members of their species – usually concerned with mating responses. The term 'pheromone' was first coined in the 1950s for a substance secreted by an animal that causes a specific reaction in another animal. The actions and mechanisms of pheromones have been widely studied in animals and with recent advances in molecular and cell biology the scope and importance of olfactory communication is only just being realized. Pheromone communication is known to exist in almost all social animals.
We found that merely smelling androstadienone maintained significantly higher levels of the hormone cortisol in women. These results suggest that, like rodents, humans can influence the hormonal balance of conspecifics through chemosignals. Critically, this study identified a single component of sweat, androstadienone, as capable of exerting such influence.
These results suggest that sex-steroidal compounds modulate mood, memory and autonomic nervous system responses and increase their significance within specific behavioral contexts. These findings lend support to a specific role for these compounds in chemical communication between humans.
The summated receptor potential was recorded from the vomeronasal organ (VNO) and olfactory epithelium (OE) of 49 human subjects of both sexes (18 to 55 years old) using surface non-polarizable silver-silver chloride electrodes. 15-25 pg of human putative pheromones, clove oil and a diluent were administered to the VNO or the OE in 0.3-1 s pulses from a 0.05 mm dia cannula connected to a multichannel delivery system. Local stimulation of the VNO produces negative potentials of 1.8-11.6 mV showing adaptation. Responses are not obtained when the recording electrode is placed in the nasal respiratory mucosa. Pheromone ER-830 significantly stimulates the male VNO (P < 0.01; n = 20), while ER-670 produces a significant effect on female subjects (P < 0.001; n = 20). The other pheromones tested do not show significantly different effects in both male and female (P > 0.1). Similar quantities of odorant or diluent produce an insignificant effect on the VNO. Stimulation of the OE with clove oil produces depolarization of 12.3 +/- 3.9 mV, while pheromones do not show a significant effect. Our results show that the VNO is a functional organ in adult humans having receptor sites for human putative pheromones..
Other Articles on Human Pheromones
Quote: "A 1998 study from the Athena Institute for Women's Wellness Research in Chester Springs, Pa., documented the sexual activity of 38 young to middle-aged heterosexual men while using pheromones. Users of pheromones, but not of an inactive control substance, had increased frequency of informal dates, affectionate gestures, sleeping next to a romantic partner, foreplay, and sexual intercourse."
Quote: "Women can smell a man's intentions When a guy is aroused, his sweat activates the female brain, study reveals."
Quote: "They found that gay men differed from heterosexual men and women and from lesbian women, both in terms of which body odors gay men preferred and how their own body odors were regarded by the other groups."
Quote: "Just a few whiffs of a chemical found in male sweat is enough to raise levels of cortisol, a hormone commonly associated with alertness or stress, in heterosexual women, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, scientists. The study, reported this week in The Journal of Neuroscience, provides the first direct evidence that humans, like rats, moths and butterflies, secrete a scent that affects the physiology of the opposite sex. "This is the first time anyone has demonstrated that a change in women's hormonal levels is induced by sniffing an identified compound of male sweat," as opposed to applying a chemical to the upper lip, said study leader Claire Wyart, a post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. The team's work was inspired by previous studies by Wyart's colleague Noam Sobel, associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and director of the Berkeley Olfactory Research Program. He found that the chemical androstadienone - a compound found in male sweat and an additive in perfumes and colognes - changed mood, sexual arousal, physiological arousal and brain activation in women."
Quote: "Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia have found that exposure to male perspiration has marked psychological and physiological effects on women: It can brighten women's moods, reducing tension and increasing relaxation, and also has a direct effect on the release of luteinizing hormone, which affects the length and timing of the menstrual cycle. The results will be published in June in the journal Biology of Reproduction and currently appear on the journal's Web site. "It has long been recognized that female pheromones can affect the menstrual cycles of other women," said George Preti, a member of the Monell Center and adjunct professor of dermatology in Penn's School of Medicine. "These findings are the first to document mood and neuroendocrine effects of male pheromones on females."
Quote: "Lesbian women respond differently than straight women when exposed to suspected sexual chemicals, according to a new brain imaging study. The finding builds on previous research that suggest that gay men responded in a way more similar to heterosexual women than heterosexual men when exposed to a synthetic chemical. According to the results, lesbians processed neural responses to AND and EST more like heterosexual men than heterosexual women. This lends further support to the idea that the chemicals activate the brain differently from common odors, Savic says."
Quote: "It turns out that sniffing a chemical from testosterone, the male sex hormone, causes a response in the sexual area of gay men's brains, just as it does in the brains of straight women, but not in the brains of straight men. "It is one more piece of evidence ... that is showing that sexual orientation is not all learned," said Sandra Witelson, an expert on brain anatomy and sexual orientation at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. Witelson, who was not part of the research team that conducted the study, said the findings show a biological involvement in sexual orientation."
Quote: "A gene that could explain how humans pick up powerful chemical signals called pheromones may have been pinpointed for the first time. The discovery promises to give scientists a new understanding of our basic instincts. Pheromones are known to trigger physical responses including sexual arousal and defensive behaviour in many species of insects, fish and animals. There has long been speculation that humans may also use these chemicals to communicate instinctive urges. Women living together often synchronise their menstrual cycles because they secrete an odourless chemical in underarm sweat. But until now scientists have not been able to explain how and where in the body the chemicals are picked up and their messages passed to the brain. Many animals, including mice, rabbits and pigs, have a special organ called the vomeronasal organ (VNO). This relays chemical signals directly to the most primitive centres of the brain, stimulating instinctive reactions. In human embryos these organs exist but they appear to perform no function after birth. Now, scientists at Rockefeller University in New York and Yale University in Connecticut believe they have found a gene which may create pheromone receptors. A receptor is an area on a cell that binds to specific molecules. Called V1RL1, the gene resembles no other type of mammalian gene and bears a strong similarity to those thought to create pheromone receptors in rats and mice. "People have taken an anatomical approach to the issue in the past. This is the first attempt to look at the molecular biology," said Dr Peter Mombaerts from Rockefeller University in the journal Nature Genetics."
Quote: "Couples who are having sexual problems could use pheromones combined with traditional therapy to enhance desire. It's also possible, some researchers say, that pheromones could be a mood enhancer, alleviating depression and stress. And the most far-reaching hypothesis so far is that pheromone treatment could control prostate activity in men to reduce the risk of cancer. If you're looking for the man or woman of your dreams, unsuspecting pheromones in your body scent are most likely playing a large and very clever role in mate attraction. According to an article in "Psychology Today," how our body odors are perceived as pleasant and sexy to another person is a highly selective process. We usually smell best to a person whose genetically based immunity to disease differs most from our own. This could benefit you in the long run, making for stronger, healthier children."
Quote: "Though any number of animals and insects use pheromones to communicate with each other about important things such as food, territory and sex, the idea that humans might be similarly influenced has been controversial among scientists. But now, researchers at the University of Chicago say they have the first proof that humans produce and react to pheromones. ... One enduring mystery of pheromones is that if they are undetectable by the human sense of smell, how can humans be influenced by them? The answer, some researchers believe, is that pheromones are detected by the same nerve cells in the nose used to detect odor or perhaps by another structure in the nose called the vomeronasal organ."
Quote: "Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia have found that exposure to male perspiration has marked psychological and physiological effects on women: It can brighten women's moods, reducing tension and increasing relaxation, and also has a direct effect on the release of luteinizing hormone, which affects the length and timing of the menstrual cycle. In a study led by Preti and colleague Charles J. Wysocki, extracts from the underarms of male volunteers were applied to the upper lip of 18 women ages 25 to 45. During the six hours of exposure to the compound, the women were asked to rate their mood using a fixed scale. "Much to our surprise, the women reported feeling less tense and more relaxed during exposure to the male extract," said Wysocki, a member of the Monell Center and adjunct professor of animal biology in Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine. "This suggests that there may be much more going on in social settings like singles bars than meets the eye."
Odorless pheromones are secreted by many animals to attract mates. But they're also synthesized and marketed to consumers as potions to increase sexual attractiveness. They've been sold for years, but new studies and claims are making these items hotter than ever. Paris Hilton knows. She added them to her latest perfume.
Scientists have identified the first human gene that may be linked to pheromones, the odorless molecules that in other animals trigger primal urges including sex, defense and kinship.
These chemicals are thought to be pheromones - molecules known to trigger responses such as defense and sex in many animals.
Scientific studies have actually shown that subjects who used synthesized pheromones had sex more often (a 47% increase in sexual intercourse) than those who used a placebo (a 9.5% increase).