Thursday, January 06, 2011

"And in her eyes you see nothing"

A study in Science magazine (via Bloomberg) shows that women's tears contain a chemical component that reduces sexual arousal in men.

We found that merely sniffing negative-emotion–related odorless tears obtained from women donors, induced reductions in sexual appeal attributed by men to pictures of women’s faces. Moreover, after sniffing such tears, men experienced reduced self-rated sexual arousal, reduced physiological measures of arousal, and reduced levels of testosterone. Finally, functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed that sniffing women's tears selectively reduced activity in brain-substrates of sexual arousal in men.

The picture shows how men in the study were made to smell tears during experiments. You can see that under the circumstances it is impossible not to smell them, and I doubt that in today's life we can catch the smell from a socially acceptable distance between a man and a woman. All this makes me believe that tears started as a chemical signal but later evolved into a social (visual) signal.
In any case, the study offers an insight into brain's ability to morph a physical phenomena into a social one.

tags: detection, science, social, networking, signal, information, philosophy, biology

DOI: 10.1126/science.1198331

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