The question as to whether or not humans can communicate via pheromones in the same way as animals is under debate. Cell physiologists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, however, have recently demonstrated that the odorous substance Hedione activates the putative pheromone receptor VN1R1, which occurs in the human olfactory epithelium. Together with colleagues from Dresden, the Bochum-based researchers showed that the scent of Hedione generates sex-specific activation patters in the brain, which do not occur with traditional fragrances. "These results constitute compelling evidence that a pheromone effect different from normal olfactory perception indeed exists in humans," says scent researcher Professor Dr. Hanns Hatt. The team published the results online on March 19, 2015 in the Journal NeuroImage. Using genetic-analysis approaches, the researchers from Bochum confirmed the pheromone receptor's existence in human olfactory mucosa. Subsequently, they transferred the genetic code for the receptor into cell cultures and, using these cells, demonstrated that Hedione activates the receptor. Hedione - derived from the Greek word "hedone," for fun, pleasure, lust; has a pleasant fresh jasmine-magnolia scent and is utilized in many perfumes. It is also called the scent of success. Together with the team headed by Professor Dr. Thomas Hummel from the University Hospital Dresden, the group from Bochum analyzed what happens in the brain when a person smells Hedione. They compared the results with the effects triggered by phenylethyl alcohol, a traditional floral fragrance. Hedione activated brain areas in the limbic system significantly more strongly than did phenylethyl alcohol. The limbic system is associated with emotions, memory, and motivation.
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