First to patent human pheromones: RP Michael (1924-2014)

Excerpted from the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Announcement 4/11/14

RP Michael, who was born in London in 1924, died peacefully in his sleep in Atlanta on January 5, 2014.

My comment: Dr. Michael was one of the first to recognize the likelihood that women produced pheromones, and he patented the idea in 1972. For example, as cited in Human Pheromones: Releasers or Primers Fact or Myth:

1) Michael, R.P. 1972. Fragrance blends based on the fatty acids and their employment in pharmaceutical products and in cosmetic products French patent # 2124399.

See also, in the article by George Preti and Charles Wysocki (2000):

2) Michael, R.P. & Keverne, E.B. 1970. Primate sex pheromones of vaginal origin. Nature, 218, 964-966.

3) Michael, R.P., Keverne, E.B. & Bonsall, R.W. 1971. Pheromones: Isolation of male sex attractants from a female primate. Science, 172, 964-966.

Now see:  Are Human Pheromones Real?

“They don’t have any history in the biomedical literature—they just fell out of the sky,” says olfactory neuroscientist Charles Wysocki, also of Monell.

Wysocki has cited works that might well have been included in a recent report by other researchers at Monell. Detecting Fat Content of Food from a Distance: Olfactory-Based Fat Discrimination in Humans. “…this is not a learned ability or dependent on nutritional traits. The demonstration that humans have a functional olfactory system specific for detecting levels of fat content warrant further explorations into this mechanism given its potential to aid in a general reduction of our fat intake.”

Others might make the connection between our ability to detect fat in food odors and our ability to detect the metabolism of fat to fatty acids, which were initially referred to as copulins before they were offered as the first example of putative human pheromones.  Clearly, there is a history in the biomedical literature that tentatively linked food odors and pheromones to sex differences in behavior. Unfortunately, RP Michael died before publication of the article that linked the human perception of food odors to theories of  the human perception of pheromones based on his works.  However, he did not live to see the comments of human pheromone-deniers, who successfully pushed his works aside for more than 40 years.

See also: Putative Human Pheromones Increase Women’s Observed Flirtatious Behaviors and Ratings of Attraction (2009).  Abstracts book opens here:  Excerpt: “Mammalian conditioning paradigms suggest that androstenol conditions hormonal effects in women that are unconsciously associated with the potential behavioral affects of androsterone. We evaluated individual video-taped fifteen-minute interactions of fourteen ovulatory-phase women during a cooperative task. During the task, our male accomplice wore either a standardized androstenol / androsterone mixture diluted in propylene glycol, or just the diluent (i.e., propylene glycol). Sandalwood odor was added to the mixture and to the propylene glycol to keep our accomplice blind to his condition. Women were more likely to display flirtatious behaviors when our accomplice was wearing the mixture than when he wore the diluent (t(12) = 4.38, p <.01; IRR: r =.914, p = .01). Specifically, they were more likely to make eye contact with our accomplice (t(12) = 3.43, p = .01; IRR: r = .964, p = .01) and they laughed more during the interaction (t(12) = 5.20, p <.01; IRR: r = .810, p = .01). There was no significant effect of the mixture in the women’s rating of our accomplice as being more intelligent, more comfortable to be around, funnier, more “good-looking,” or in having our accomplice as a task partner again. However, when our accomplice was wearing the mixture, the women rated themselves as being more attracted to him (t(12) = 2.786, p = .016). Our results suggest that combining the known hormonal effects of androstenol (e.g., on luteinizing hormone) and the possible behavioral affects of androsterone extends non-human animal models of olfactory/pheromonal communication to humans. Our disclosed mixture may help to better characterize species-specific human pheromones.

Based on RP Michael’s works, it makes no sense for anyone to be the first to patent human pheromones. It would be akin to patenting food odors, which epigenetically effect the same neuronal systems of all mammals just like pheromones do. But it makes no sense for researchers to claim that human pheromones or that food odors “…don’t have any history in the biomedical literature—they just fell out of the sky…” Obviously, the history of olfactory/pheromonal input that epigenetically effects the hormones that affect behavior is well-established in the biomedical literature. The idea that human pheromones affect human behavior did not just fall out of the sky. It came from examples of cause and effect in many different species, just like the idea that food odors affect human behavior came from examples of cause and effect in many different species.


About James V. Kohl 1308 Articles
James Vaughn Kohl was the first to accurately conceptualize human pheromones, and began presenting his findings to the scientific community in 1992. He continues to present to, and publish for, diverse scientific and lay audiences, while constantly monitoring the scientific presses for new information that is relevant to the development of his initial and ongoing conceptualization of human pheromones. Recently, Kohl integrated scientific evidence that pinpoints the evolved neurophysiological mechanism that links olfactory/pheromonal input to genes in hormone-secreting cells of tissue in a specific area of the brain that is primarily involved in the sensory integration of olfactory and visual input, and in the development of human sexual preferences. His award-winning 2007 article/book chapter on multisensory integration: The Mind’s Eyes: Human pheromones, neuroscience, and male sexual preferences followed an award winning 2001 publication: Human pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology, which was coauthored by disinguished researchers from Vienna. Rarely do researchers win awards in multiple disciplines, but Kohl’s 2001 award was for neuroscience, and his 2007 “Reiss Theory” award was for social science. Kohl has worked as a medical laboratory scientist since 1974, and he has devoted more than twenty-five years to researching the relationship between the sense of smell and the development of human sexual preferences. Unlike many researchers who work with non-human subjects, medical laboratory scientists use the latest technology from many scientific disciplines to perform a variety of specialized diagnostic medical testing on people. James V. Kohl is certified with: * American Society for Clinical Pathology * American Medical Technologists James V. Kohl is a member of: * Society for Neuroscience * Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology * Association for Chemoreception Sciences * Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality * International Society for Human Ethology * American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science * Mensa, the international high IQ society