Jan 13, 2009

Science - Whiff of male sexual sweat turns on female brain

Washington, Jan 11 (IANS) A whiff of male sexual sweat turns on the female brain, which is programmed to recognise and encode them.

Denise Chen, assistant professor of psychology at Rice University, looked at the process the female brain undergoes to encode the smell of sexual sweat from men.

The experiment studied natural human sexual sweat using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Nineteen healthy female subjects inhaled olfactory stimuli from four sources, one of which was sweat gathered from sexually aroused males.

The experiment detailed how their brain recognises chemosensory communication, including human sexual sweat, besides showing how such olfactory sense complements the more powerful visual and aural senses.

Research showed that several parts of the brain are involved in processing the emotional value of the olfactory information. These include the right fusiform region, the right orbitofrontal cortex and the right hypothalamus.

'With the exception of the hypothalamus, neither the orbitofrontal cortex nor the fusiform region is considered to be associated with sexual motivation and behaviour,' Chen said.

'Our results imply that the chemosensory information from natural human sexual sweat is encoded more holistically in the brain rather than specifically for its sexual quality,' he added, according to a Rice release.

The understanding of human smell at the neural level is still at the initial stage. The present work is the first fMRI study of human social chemosignals. The research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health.

These findings appeared in the December issue of Journal of Neuroscience.

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