Body Odor Directs Our Behavior
mp3 | wav

body odor directs our behavior

So if you've been around babies enough or held one, you know they have a distinct "new baby" smell. That smell is produced by a chemical and remarkably to help the baby survive. New research shows while the chemical makes a woman more aggressive, it has a calming effect on men. Can we order that up for world peace, please?

This gender specific molecule is called hexadecanal and though by itself has no discernible smell, it can be sensed by our olfactory system. It's possible all mammals respond to hexadecanal. It works by activating the angular gyrus, an area on the backside of the brain. It handles social cues and communicates with other brain areas for social-emotional decision making.

The experiment used a computer game to spur aggressive behavior in both men and women. Men exposed to the chemical toned down their aggression compared to men who weren't and the opposite was seen in women. One theory for this gender specific response is as an evolutionary protection for new offspring.

A research team in Japan discovered that babies release hexadecanal from the skin on the top of their heads. The idea is that it'll trigger a woman's protective maternal response while making fathers more docile. This still needs proving out. And we thought only teens manipulated their parents.

But hey, I'm sorry. Smells have been directing my life for years. Just watch me around fresh baked bread!

For more information…

Chemical emitted by babies could make men more docile, women more aggressive
Scientists have argued for decades over whether humans have pheromones, chemical compounds that trigger aggression and mating in insects and other animals. Although the notion has great popular appeal-search Amazon for "pheromone" and you'll get the idea-there's scant evidence for this kind of signal in our species...

Chemical In Body Odor Makes Men Less Aggressive But Women More So, Study Finds
Body odor can influence aggression in humans, but we are not all equal victims of its stench - in men, it blocks aggression, while in women it triggers it - a new study finds. The reason for this malodorous mismatch is ecological, suggest the authors of the study, published today in the journal Science Advances. ..