Pheromonal communication in vertebrates. Nature

Department of Physiology, University of Bristol, Medical School Building, University Walk, Bristol BS8 1TD, UK.
Nature (Impact Factor: 41.46). 12/2006; 444(7117):308-15. DOI: 10.1038/nature05404
Source: PubMed


Recent insights have revolutionized our understanding of the importance of chemical signals in influencing vertebrate behaviour. Previously unknown families of pheromonal signals have been identified that are expanding the traditional definition of a pheromone. Although previously regarded as functioning independently, the main olfactory and vomeronasal systems have been found to have considerable overlap in terms of the chemosignals they detect and the effects that they mediate. Studies using gene-targeted mice have revealed an unexpected diversity of chemosensory systems and their underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. Future developments could show how the functions of the different chemosensory systems are integrated to regulate innate and learned behavioural and physiological responses to pheromones.

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Available from: Peter Brennan
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    • "In this study, we examined whether lack of social signals during adolescence increases maternal behavior in sexually naïve male mice as well as during young adulthood. Pheromone signals may be involved in these physiological and behavioral responses [15] [16] [17] [18]; therefore, we also examined the effect of modified social isolation that allowed male mice to smell and hear adjacent male conspecifics, but not to see or touch them. "
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    ABSTRACT: Maternal behavior in mice is considered to be sexually dimorphic; that is, females show maternal care for their offspring, whereas this behavior is rarely shown in males. Here, we examined how social isolation affects the interaction of adult male mice with pups. Three weeks of isolation during puberty (5-8 weeks old) induced retrieving and crouching when exposed to pups, while males with 1 week isolation (7-8 weeks old) also showed such maternal care, but were less responsive to pups. We also examined the effect of isolation during young adulthood (8-11 weeks old), and found an induction of maternal behavior comparable to that in younger male mice. This effect was blocked by exposure to chemosensory and auditory social signals derived from males in an attached compartment separated by doubled opaque barriers. These results demonstrate that social isolation in both puberty and postpuberty facilitates male maternal behavior in sexually naïve mice. The results also indicate that air-borne chemicals and/or sounds of male conspecifics, including ultrasonic vocalization and noise by their movement may be sufficient to interfere with the isolation effect on induction of maternal behavior in male mice. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Physiology & Behavior
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    • "Our results were characterized by gender specificity that is common in social chemosignaling (Doty, 1986; Savic et al., 2001; Bensafi et al., 2003; Dulac and Torello, 2003; Brennan and Zufall, 2006; Bergan et al., 2014; Kaur et al., 2014). Although popular depictions of social chemosignaling typically highlight cross-gender interactions, a large number of documented social chemosignaling effects in both rodents and humans highlight the role of within gender social chemosignaling as well. "
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    ABSTRACT: Social chemosignaling is a part of human behavior, but how chemosignals transfer from one individual to another is unknown. In turn, humans greet each other with handshakes, but the functional antecedents of this behavior remain unclear. To ask whether handshakes are used to sample conspecific social chemosignals, we covertly filmed 271 subjects within a structured greeting event either with or without a handshake. We found that humans often sniff their own hands, and selectively increase this behavior after handshake. After handshakes within gender, subjects increased sniffing of their own right shaking hand by more than 100%. In contrast, after handshakes across gender, subjects increased sniffing of their own left non-shaking hand by more than 100%. Tainting participants with unnoticed odors significantly altered the effects, thus verifying their olfactory nature. Thus, handshaking may functionally serve active yet subliminal social chemosignaling, which likely plays a large role in ongoing human behavior. DOI:
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · eLife Sciences
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    • "To demonstrate the application of the computational pipeline to the mapping of behavior-evoked brain activation, we focus on mouse social behavior and generate activation maps representing sex-specific social behaviors in the male brain. Rodent social behavior is an area of intense research, and c-fos mapping , lesion studies, and other functional approaches have been used to identify brain regions that are activated and contribute to male and female sexual behaviors as well as male-male aggressive behaviors (Anderson, 2012; Bia1y and Kaczmarek, 1996; Brennan and Zufall, 2006; Coolen et al., 1996; Pfaus and Heeb, 1997; Veening et al., 2005; Yang and Shah, 2014). Much less is known, on the other hand, about the brain areas activated during the initial period of sex discrimination and social recognition before the manifestation of the correct behavioral response. "
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    ABSTRACT: Central to the understanding of brain functions is insight into the distribution of neuronal activity that drives behavior. Local measurements of brain activity in behaving mice can be made with electrodes and fluorescent calcium indicators (Buzsáki, 2004 and Grewe and Helmchen, 2009), but such approaches provide information regarding only a very small fraction of the ∼70 million neurons that comprise the mouse brain. The detection of elevated levels of the immediate-early genes (IEGs) linked to recent neuronal activity (Clayton, 2000 and Guzowski et al., 2005) is a more spatially comprehensive technique. While it lacks the time resolution of electrophysiological recordings or calcium imaging, it does have the potential of providing a complete view of recent whole-brain activity. Once determined, the whole-brain IEG-based map can be used to generate structure-function hypotheses to be probed by high-resolution recordings as well as optogenetic and chemogenetic methods (Fenno et al., 2011 and Lee et al., 2014).
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