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Human Pheromones: Diversity of signaling pathways and a common response (Part 2)

Posted on July 30, 2012 by James Kohl.

Smell the potassium: Surprising find in study of sex- and aggression-triggering vomeronasal organ.” July 29th, 2012.

Article excerpts (with my emphasis): Re: The sense of smell

“From its [neurogenic] niche within the nose in most land-based vertebrates, it detects pheromones and triggers corresponding basic-instinct behaviors”

“…neurons… are studded with specialized receptors that can be activated by contact with specific messenger-chemicals…. When activated,… receptors cause adjacent ion channels to open or close allowing ions to flood into or out of a neuron. These inflows and outflows of electric charge create voltage surges that can activate a… neuron, so that it signals to the brain to turn on a specific behavior.”

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Key words (from above): my sequence: activate, receptor, neuron, [niche], cause, behavior

As almost everyone knows, there is no such thing as a training receptor, which is why operant conditioning cannot directly effect (i.e., activate) genetically predisposed behavior. At best, operant conditioning (i.e., training) can only be tentatively linked to behavioral affects via study design (instead of via receptor-mediated events linked to neuronal systems that control brain-directed behavior).

Slight alterations of study design can be used to give the impression that some social scientists are making a significant contribution to the understanding of cause and effect that involves hormones that affect behavior. But there are no training receptors that allow training to epigenetically  effect hormone-secreting nerve cells of brain tissue as is required to link sensory input from the environment directly to brain-directed behavior (e.g., in my model of adaptive evolution). There’s also no other model of adaptive evolution that incorporates what’s currently known about the molecular biology that is common to all species.

It would be helpful to many people if my antagonists (e.g, Glen Sizemore, Clarence ‘Sonny’ Williams, John Angel) and/or peers (e.g., Mark Flinn, Jay Feierman, Sigvard Lingh) would simply either acknowledge the factual representation above, or attempt to refute it. The biology of behavior is about receptor-mediated cause and effect that leads to behavioral affects. The affects are obviously of interest to evolutionary psychologists, which suggests that biologically based cause and effect also should be of interest in the context of biologically based adaptive evolution via ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction.

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James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl




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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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