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44533Re: [evol-psych] Article: The secrets of animal attraction

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  • Robert Karl Stonjek
    Aug 1 1:09 AM
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      Robert Karl Stonjek wrote:
      Merely identifying the existence of these particular odour receptors in humans does not prove that humans use this particular form of olfaction to seek out mates.  But desperate females can test the theory by carrying, on their person, an ovulating rodent - rumour has it that the most attractive mates turn out to be rats anyway.

      Comparatively speaking, merely stating that humans are primarily visual creatures, does not prove that humans use any form of visual input to seek out mates. Desparate (e.g., ovulatory) human females could, however, test this visual theory. Approach a good-looking potential mate, evaluate his genetically coded  individual scent signature, and decide what to do, knowing that he may turn out to be a "rat".  But what if the human female ignores her decision making process and behaves like any other mammalian female who finds a male with a "fit" scent signature. In this case, the unconscious affect of the fit male's pheromones on her behavior will be driven by demonstrable effects of pheromones on hormones. These effects are first manifest by gene activation in cells of tissue in the brain --an organ that is part of any organ system involved in behavior. Given the demonstrable effects of human pheromones on the aforementioned 5-step gene-cell-tissue-organ-organ system pathway that links sensory cues from our social environment to our sexual behavior, sarcasm or humor seem inappropriate. Such uniquely human commentary might be more appropriate when researchers report on any aspect of visually perceived human physical attraction that cannot be explained by olfactory/pheromonal conditioning of the human female's visual response. Merely starting with the number of genes coding for the receptors required, or how the genetic diversity allows for the species-specific response might be sufficient to stall research on the significance of visual input as compared to olfactory/pheromonal input. Running up against the "brick wall" of no direct connection between visual input and our neuroendocrine system is another problem. Innate sex differences in the signal and in the processing of the signal are also largely ignored when people choose to accept the visual theory, as is the neuronal plasticity that allows for extremely subtle (e.g., genetically determined) differences in the response . Perhaps this is one reason that the picture of the swans was used in the article. I think that people are more likely to buy into the visual model if examples from avian species are used, at least until they learn a little about pheromones in birds. Meanwhile, sarcasm and humor help to ensure that few people will be inspired to learn anything more about neuroscience, genetics, immunology, or more generally, the biological basis of mammalian, including human, sexual behavior.

      Jim Kohl
      Apart from my flippant observation, the sweaty tee-shirt experiment has shown conclusively that males and females can judge others by olfaction alone.  The general gist of these experiments is to get one lot of participants, say males, to wear a tee-shirt whilst doing some labour, then getting females to adjudge the tee-shirts without seeing the men.  The more common form of the experiment is to get men to sniff women's tee-shirts - they prefer women who are at that part of their cycle where they are most likely to conceive.
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      Robert Karl Stonjek
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