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Human pheromones and the visual appeal of other people (Part Two)

Posted on May 15, 2012 by James Kohl.

It’s been two months since publication of Kohl, J.V. (2012) Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 2: 17338. I have since chronicled the appearance of additional facts that attest to the most important aspect of any scientific endeavor, which is to first get the model right.

The “Nature Genetics” paper (subscription required) I cited in Part One is another publication that attests to the fact my model is the right model. The senior author of this paper states in his interview: “The findings also provide a framework for understanding fascinating evolutionary questions, such as why humans of different ethnicities have distinct facial features and how these are embedded in our genome. IRX genes have been repeatedly co-opted during evolution, and small variation in their activity could underlie fine alterations in the way we look…

His statement about genes and alterations in the way we “look” brings together the following aspects of my model:

1) ecology and the nutrient chemical-dependent evolution of ecological niches;

2) social interactions and the pheromone-dependent evolution of social niches.

Ecological and social niches cause the evolution of neurogenic niches.

3) Neurogenic niches are responsible for the evolution of the brain.

Our evolved brain is responsible for our behavior, and our behavior is determined by the epigenetic effects of nutrient chemicals and pheromones, not by what we see or consciously perceive to be physically attractive features in other people. Our response to the way they “look” is conditioned by our experience with the chemistry of other people throughout a lifetime of experiences that begin before we are born, with in utero mother-infant chemical exchanges.

If it takes someone with academic credentials to make this clear in future publications with broad based integration of ecological niches, social niches, neurogenic niches and conditioned behaviors, so be it. But this post serves notice that it has already been done using model organisms that extend the concept of olfactory/pheromonal cause and effect from microbes to man.

Minimally, I can expect there will less Cryptomnesia, which occurs when a forgotten memory returns as if it were a new inspiration. Many marketers of human pheromone products are afflicted with this memory disorder (if they are not, in truth, stealing and/or plagiarizing what they read here in violation of copyright law). However,  a search strategy that incorporates the terms: ecological, social, neurogenic, and niche, should soon provide a link that supplements a search strategy that incorporates: “gene-cell-tissue-organ“, or “gene, cell, tissue, organ” and links to my other publications in the context of the biology of behavioral development.

I have spent more than 2 decades developing the model I first presented at a scientific congress in 1991. Establishing it as the “right model” is not something I can do; it takes “common sense,” and no one can teach that to anyone else.  For example, if someone doesn’t already realize that the common sense across all species is their ability to sense nutrient chemicals and pheromones, they can’t be taught to put adaptive evolution into the correct perspective  where “Olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans.” Instead, they are more likely to think about, and study the effects of visual imagery on the brain and behavior because they think that visual input is most important to the development of human behavior. Clearly, however, there is no model for that!




James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl

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James Kohl owns, and he has published books and award-winning research journal articles about human pheromones. With colleagues he was the first to show that a mixture of human pheromones increases the flirtatious behaviors of women, and increases their level of attraction to the man wearing the mixture - during a real-life social circumstance lasting 15 minutes.

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What is the vomeronasal organ (VNO)?

The vomeronasal organ (VNO) is a cone-shaped organ in the nasal cavity, which is believed to be one of the body's receptors of pheromones. More, specifically, the VNO, which is part of the accessory olfactory system in the nose, does not respond to normal scents, but may detect odorless, barely perceptible pheromones.

Other schools of thought believe that it is not the VNO but rather cells in our main olfactory system and their affects on hormones secreted by the hypothalamus that are responsible for the affects of pheromones.

Learn more about the science behind pheromones here.

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