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EB Ver Hoeve's picture

Pheromones and Bridging the Translation

The question of ESP is very intriguing and very useful in attempting to build the “translation” bridge between micro neuronal synapses and macro behavioral actions. Of particular interest to me, are pheromones. While the topic of pheromones arises in some conversations, I had never really thought about it until I started working in a maternal behaviors lab last summer. A lot of different biological and zoological experiments were going on in the lab, and I got to help out with several of them. One of the most interesting experiments – being conducted by one of the grad students, Nina – involved pheromones. Nina and I performed a series of experiments in which we observed and recorded a female mouse’s behavior for 2 hours, before and after we switched the bedding (bedding being the independent variable here). Types of beddings included plain (control), male bedding, and most importantly bedding from her pups. Following observations, the mice performed aggression tests. As the summer progressed, I learned that pheromonal activation could lead to the activation of the accessory olfactory bulb – which they believe can trigger maternal aggression. They were developing a connection between the pheromones from her pups and the mother mouse’s dependent behavior. I think this is a good example of how chemical input may greatly affect behavioral output. There are many different types of pheromones, and many types that have not yet been defined. I do believe that the notion of “knowing something without knowing how you know it” is extremely real and might as well be expanded to acting on something without knowing why you acted on it.


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