Pheromone-induced learning: a NEW model?

Science 14 December 2012: Vol. 338 no. 6113 pp. 1462-1465 (subscription required)

Pheromonal Induction of Spatial Learning in Mice

Abstract excerpt: “…pheromone-induced learning allows animals to relocate sites of particular social relevance and provides proof that pheromones such as darcin can be highly potent stimuli for social learning.

My comment to Science (Received: Thu, 13 Dec 2012 17:46:58 -0500/published more than a month later 1/15/13): In my model, the reliable and rapid learning induced by the sex pheromone darcin would best exemplify the top-down epigenetic effect of pheromones on intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression that controls bottom-up nutrient-chemical dependent reproduction in species from microbes to man.

In mammals,for example, the epigenetic effects of the nutrient chemicals and pheromones converge on the same neuronal system. It is their epigenetic effects on the gondadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neuronal system that also links epigenetic cause and effect to juvenile hormone (JH) secretion in the honeybee model organism. This is a form of evolutionary back-tracking from vertebrates to invertebrates in the context of hormone-organized and hormone-activated behaviors (vertebrates: Diamond, Binstock and Kohl, 1996; invertebrates: Elekonich and Robinson,2000).

However, invertebrate models best exemplify the requirement for adaptive evolution to get from gene expression to behavior and back. What the honeybee queen eats determines her pheromone production and everything else about the behavioral interactions in the colony, including neuroanatomy of the worker bees’ brains.

I’m not sure what makes including the observed affects of darcin on behavior a “new model” for use to investigate the neural pathways and mechanisms involved in spatial learning associated either with food odors or with the species specific social odors called pheromones. Was there something wrong with the old model in which nutrient chemical-dependent pheromone-controlled reproduction enables adaptive evolution via ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction and the molecular mechanisms common to species from microbes to man? Doesn’t this “new model” eloquently elucidate the fact that epigenetic changes occur across an evolutionary continuum, which includes both nutrition-dependent reproduction in unicellular organisms and sexual reproduction in mammals?

In my model, for example: “Olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans.” — Kohl, J.V. (2012) Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 2: 17338.

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