Tag Archives: human behavior

Women Can Smell a Man’s Sexual Intentions

By Melinda Wenner
Fox News
January 13, 2009

It’s not hard to tell when a guy is “happy to see you.”

The twinkle in his eye, his swagger, that sexy smile — all are clear signs he’s in the mood.

And, at least subconsciously, a woman can also tell by the scent of his sweat, according to new research.

Scientists have long debated whether humans, like animals, use chemical signals called pheromones to communicate sexual interest to potential mates.

Problem is, the effects of pheromones are thought to be subconscious — meaning that if we do communicate using them, we sure don’t know it.

It’s also hard to know what these pheromones might be and how we sense them, so researchers understand little about them.

But if human pheromones are going to be anywhere, they’re going to be in sweat, right?

Denise Chen, a psychologist at Rice University in Houston, and her colleagues devised an experiment to compare how women respond to different forms of male sweat — sweat produced in everyday situations versus that produced when a man is turned on.

The researchers speculated that if humans do produce and respond to sweat pheromones, then a woman should respond to a guy’s sexual sweat differently than she does to his normal sweat.

Chen and her colleagues asked 20 heterosexual guys to stop wearing deodorant and scented products for a few days.

Then they told the men to put small pads in their armpits as they watched pornographic videos and became aroused. (The researchers confirmed, using electrodes, that the images did the job.)

Later, the guys were asked to exchange those pads for fresh pads to collect the sweat they produced when they weren’t aroused.

Then the researchers recruited 19 brave women to smell the men’s pads while undergoing brain scans.

The investigators used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technique that reveals the brain regions a person is using at any given time — even if their brain activity is subconscious.

Sure enough, the women’s brains responded very differently depending on which sweat they sniffed. (And no, none of them passed out.)

The sexual sweat, but not the normal sweat, activated the right orbitofrontal cortex and the right fusiform cortex, brain areas that help us recognize emotions and perceive things, respectively.

Both regions are in the right hemisphere, which is generally involved in smell, social response, and emotion.

The findings bolster the idea that humans do communicate via subconscious chemical signals, notes Chen in her study, which was published in the Dec. 31 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Our sexual intentions, in other words, may be a lot clearer than we ever intended them to be.

That crush you have on your co-worker? She may already know — at least subconsciously.

Source:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,479819,00.html

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Sex and the female brain

Semen has mind control properties

By Jena Pincott
Jena Pincott’s blog
January 8th, 2009

What's in his hand again?

What's in his hand again?

The more a woman has sex with her partner, the more committed she becomes, and the less attracted she is to other men — at least in the short-term. I blogged about this study several weeks ago and offered explanations both hormonal and psychological. But another theory came to my attention today in the form of a study on fruit flies.

For decades, scientists have known that female Drosophila often refuse sex after they come into contact with seminal fluid. This may give a reproductive edge to the first male with whom she has sex. A study led by Geoffrey Findlay at the University of Washington has finally shed some light on the phenomenon. There are proteins in seminal fluid, many of which transfer to the female’s system after sex. Some of these proteins are apparent warriors — they fight the sperm of rival males. Other proteins are like hypnotists — by affecting the female’s hormones, they dampen her interest in sex with other males. Somewhat disturbingly, the more semen a female is exposed to, the more influence the male has over her reproductive tract and her mating behavior. Semen, it seems, has mind-control properties.

So what does this mean for humans? The same study hasn’t been done on men and women, but researchers speculate that many of the same proteins are in the semen of human males. “Does semen make you happier?” is one of the questions posed in BLONDES. In answering it, I describe a fascinating study at SUNY Albany that found that, yes, women who are regularly exposed to their partner’s semen are less depressed than women who use condoms most of the time. Hormones and proteins are absorbed through the vagina, enter the bloodstream, and possibly breach the blood-brain barrier. Might these hormones and proteins men’s semen manipulate women’s minds in the way that fruit fly spunk affects female fruit flies? Perhaps, but it is hard to prove. Women’s love lives (and psyches) are a little more complicated than those of Drosophila. After all, a woman in love with the man she sleeps with would be happier and more faithful anyway. It’s a puzzle for all scientists who study human sexuality: Where to draw the line between chemical love and Eros? The seminal and the sacred?

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