Friday, December 21, 2012

For guys who want to attract women?

Perhaps there is a human equivalent of the non-volatile protein pheromone darcin, that Roberts et al. show to stimulate spatial preference and learning in mice. Female mice preferred locations where male urine (or synthesized darcin) had been found, and remembered these spatial locations for 2 weeks post-exposure. (Scent marking is an essential component of communication for most mammals. Individuals remember the location of scent marks and regularly revisit marked sites, presumably to assess the condition and status of the animal doing the marking. It is known that individuals can follow odor or pheromone gradients to locate another individual, but relocating scent marks is a much more difficult task given the small amount of volatile compounds deposited, and their static nature.) Here is the abstract:

Many mammals use scent marking for sexual and competitive advertisement, but little is known about the mechanism by which scents are used to locate mates and competitors. We show that darcin, an involatile protein sex pheromone in male mouse urine, can rapidly condition preference for its remembered location among females and competitor males so that animals prefer to spend time in the site even when scent is absent. Learned spatial preference is conditioned through contact with darcin in a single trial and remembered for approximately 14 days. This pheromone-induced learning allows animals to relocate sites of particular social relevance and provides proof that pheromones such as darcin can be highly potent stimuli for social learning.

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