Japanese scientists have carried out a series of experiments with rodents to study pheromones.
Pheromones are those chemicals secreted by living beings that transmit signals in order to cause specific behavior, whether aggressive or sexual, in another individual of the same species. Now, an experiment carried out with rodents shows how the different brain circuits of males and females convert the chemical signals into aggressive or sexual behavior, respectively.
We know that pheromones cause some people to be more attractive to us than others, but little is known about the exact mechanism that makes this possible. In animals, for example, the sense of smell plays a key role in regulating instinctual responses. And in humans?
A team of researchers led by Kazushige Touhara, a professor at the Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Tokyo, Japan, set out to examine how male pheromones improved sexual behavior in female mice.
“It is well known that some chemicals, especially odors, can affect the instinctual behaviors of animals, even on first contact. We assume that there is a neuronal mechanism in the brain that connects important sensory information to the appropriate behavioral centers in the brain “Clarifies Touhara.
For this reason, the scientists analyzed a male pheromone, ESP1 (exocrine gland secreting peptide 1), which has been shown to boost sexual behavior in female mice and aggressive behavior in male mice. These glands of external secretion are different from other pheromones because it is a single chemical that corresponds to a single receptor, which facilitates its follow-up.
By marking the neurons with a fluorescent protein, researchers could see how ESP1 signals were transmitted in the brain, finding that by activating the neurons responsible for responding to the ESP1 pheromone in the hypothalamus, there was an intensification in sexual behavior in mice Females, even though the male pheromone was not present.