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Human Pheromones: Psychological and Neurological Modulation of a Putative Human Pheromone
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The notion that humans have specialized chemicals used for communication between conspecifics, so-called pheromones, has attracted much attention and discussion. This thesis demonstrates in four separate studies that a human endogenous steroidal compound that is abundant in male sweat, androstadienone, affects women in several ways that differ to that of common odors. Specifically, androstadienone was found in Study I to have unique psychophysical characteristics in that the sensitivity distribution of the odor is bimodal with a smaller subpopulation consisting of highly sensitive individuals. Trigeminal mediation of this bimodality was experimentally excluded. Moreover, Study II demonstrated that women’s cortical activation of androstadienone exposure was found to differ to that of common odorants in that androstadienone was processed faster than two perceptually similar control odors. It was further demonstrated that a non-detectable amount of androstadienone can reliably modulate both mood and physiology in women (Study III & IV); in particular mood referring to attention processes. Study IV showed that androstadienone-induced mood changes in heterosexual women were only evident when the experiment was administered by an experimenter of different sex. The combined results from these studies suggest that androstadienone serves as a human modulator pheromone that guides our behavior by inducing subtle changes in higher cognitive processes in relation to the ecological context at hand. A new definition of human pheromones is proposed and discussed in relation to the obtained results.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2005. , p. 73
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 7
Keywords [en]
Psychology, Pheromones, Odor, Olfaction, Sensitivity, Psychophysiology, Attention, ERP, Mood, Androstadienone, Estratetraenol, Bimodal distribution, Speed of processing
Keywords [sv]
Psykologi
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-5880ISBN: 91-554-6297-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-5880DiVA, id: diva2:166708
Public defence
2005-09-23, Room 1022, Gårdshuset, Institutionen för psykologi, Trädgårdsgatan 18, Uppsala, 13:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2005-09-01 Created: 2005-09-01Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Individual differences in sensitivity to the odor of 4,16-androstadien-3-one
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Individual differences in sensitivity to the odor of 4,16-androstadien-3-one
2003 In: Chemical Senses, ISSN 0379-864X, Vol. 28, no 7, p. 643-650Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-93271 (URN)
Available from: 2005-09-01 Created: 2005-09-01Bibliographically approved
2. A putative social chemosignal elicits faster cortical responses than perceptually similar odorants
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A putative social chemosignal elicits faster cortical responses than perceptually similar odorants
Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-93272 (URN)
Available from: 2005-09-01 Created: 2005-09-01Bibliographically approved
3. Psychological effects of subthreshold exposure to the putative human pheromone 4,16-androstadien-3-one
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Psychological effects of subthreshold exposure to the putative human pheromone 4,16-androstadien-3-one
2003 In: Horm Behav, ISSN 0018-506x, Vol. 44, no 5, p. 395-401Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-93273 (URN)
Available from: 2005-09-01 Created: 2005-09-01Bibliographically approved
4. Subthreshold amounts of social odorant affect mood, but not behavior, in heterosexual women when tested by a male, but not a female, experimenter
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Subthreshold amounts of social odorant affect mood, but not behavior, in heterosexual women when tested by a male, but not a female, experimenter
2005 (English)In: Biological Psychology, ISSN 0301-0511, E-ISSN 1873-6246, Vol. 70, no 3, p. 197-204Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previously, we have demonstrated that exposure to the endogenous steroid androstadienone has the ability to modulate women's mood in that they feel more focused [Lundstrom, J.N., Goncalves, M., Esteves, F., Olsson, M.J., 2003a. Psychological effects of subthreshold exposure to the putative human pheromone 4,16-androstadien-3-one. Hormones and Behaviour 44 (5), 395-401]. Here, we tested the hypothesis that androstadienone exposure would modulate participating women's mood and corresponding behavior as measured by a sustained attention task. Thirty-seven women participated in a double-blind, within-group experiment and were tested by either a female or a male experimenter. Effects on mood, psychophysiological arousal, sustained attention, and ratings of male facial attractiveness were assessed. Sensory detection of the experimental substance was rigorously controlled for by psychophysical testing. The results showed that exposure to a non-detectable amount of androstadienone modulated women's psychophysiological arousal and mood in a positive direction but did not change attention performance or rating of facial attractiveness. Moreover, mood effects were only evident when an experimenter of the opposite sex conducted the testing. This suggests that social context is important for mood effects of androstadienone exposure in women.

Keywords
Adult, Affect, Androstadienes/*pharmacology, Attention, Autonomic Nervous System/physiology, Facial Expression, Female, Heterosexuality, Humans, Male, Observer Variation, Odors, Pheromones/*pharmacology, Reproducibility of Results, Research Support; Non-U.S. Gov't, Sex Factors, Smell, Social Behavior
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-93274 (URN)10.1016/j.biopsycho.2005.01.008 (DOI)16242537 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2005-09-01 Created: 2005-09-01 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved

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