Human pheromones, the social brain and simple math computations

Simple mathematical computations underlie brain circuits August 8, 2012 by Anne Trafton in Neuroscience

Excerpt: “There is growing evidence that alterations in excitation and inhibition are at the core of many subsets of neuropsychiatric disorders,” says Sur, who is also the director of the Simons Center for the Social Brain at MIT. “It makes sense, because these are not disorders in the fundamental way in which the brain is built. They’re subtle disorders in brain circuitry and they affect very specific brain systems, such as the social brain.”

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My comments:

Integrating the chemical ecology of the social brain’s adaptive evolution allows it to be viewed – along with adaptive evolution of the CNS – at four levels of niche construction: 1) ecological, 2) social, 3) neurogenic, and 4) socio-cognitive. From this view olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans, because all organisms require nutrient chemicals and their reproduction is controlled by pheromones.

In people, nutrient chemicals and pheromones alter neuronal excitation and inhibition in nerve cells that secrete gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), which links odors to the biological core of many subsets of neuropsychiatric disorders. Olfactory/pheromonal input causes subtle alterations in hypothalamic GnRH pulse frequency, which has downstream effects on most, if not all, other neuronal systems that are indirectly linked to neuropsychiatric disorders.  For example, noradrenergic, dopaminergic, serotoninergic, and opiotergic pathways; inhibitory neurotransmitters (e.g., gammaaminobutyric acid) and excitatory amino acids (e.g., glutamic and aspartic acids); and other brain peptides including pineal secretions (melatonin) and corticotropinreleasing hormone, and the complex interactions among them are subtle but functional species-specific influences on the electrochemical transmission of neuronal signals that the hypothalamus translates to the chemical signal GnRH (Grumbach & Styne, 1992, p. 1164).

The hypothalamic GnRH pulse is altered by excitation and inhibition due to the epigenetic effects of olfactory/pheromonal input on intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression. Food odors and mammalian pheromones alter early gene expression in GnRH-secreting nerve cells of the hypothalamus, and the expression of early genes is a marker of neuronal activation. With olfactory/pheromonal input, however, the neuronal activation is linked directly from the sensory environment to effects on hormones that affect behavior. The affects on behavior come from the ability of the epigenetically effected hormones to alter excitation and inhibition – at the core of neuropsychiatric disorders: hypothalamic GnRH pulsatility.

Grumbach, M. M., & Styne, D. M. (1992). Puberty: ontogeny, neuroendocrinology, physiology, and disorders. In J. D. Wilson & D. W. Foster (Eds.), Williams Textbook of Endocrinology (Vol. 8th ed, pp. 1139-1221). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co.

About James V. Kohl 1307 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