“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…
A diet-reponsive neurogenic niche links nutrient chemical intake to receptor-mediated brain development in mammals. Glucose regulates the hormone secreting nerve cells in this niche, which links it and other nutrient chemicals to levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and brain development.
There is no direct link from visual or auditory stimuli that would explain any likelihood that spectral stimuli could classically condition the response to nutrient chemical associated with food odors.
The idea that ecological niches and social niches are the determinants of neurogenic niches, like those that develop with exposure to food odors and social odors, is one that is important to consider whether we intend to look at pharmacogenomics or to better understand the development of human behavior in the context of epigenetic effects of odors on brain development.
…model organisms make clear the extension of the concept to nutrient chemical and pheromone-dependent neurogenic niches, human brain development, and individual differences in behavior.
the epigenetic effects of chemicals from our sensory environment on GnRH are probably essential to the development of an evolved brain and behavior involved in seeking out proper nutrition and reproductively “fit” mates.
Nutrition is such an obvious epigenetic influence on brain development that it should be somewhat clear that social odors would also be a powerful influence on brain development and behavior.
The effect of GnRH on secretion on luteinizing hormone/follicle stimulating hormone ratios and steroidogenesis, links social odors to brain maturation across species of mammals, as well as vertebrates. Experience-dependent brain-directed behaviors should be as variable as would be expected by the association between food odors and food preferences.
I’m not sure where researchers first strayed from the gene, cell, tissue, organ, organ-system pathway, but I am happy to see evidence that research may get back on the path that directly links sensory input to brain function and behavior.
Food odors drive behaviors associated with food acquisition; social odors (called pheromones) drive behaviors associated with mate acquisition.