Sunday, October 10, 2010
By far the most contentious topic in the chemical senses is whether or not humans produce and respond to pheromones—sex pheromones in particular. That this is still a matter for debate, fifty years after the coining of the term “pheromone”, will surprise some people. Others, like myself, are simply frustrated that despite thousands of experiments and scientific publications, the issue is not yet settled.
My sense of the field is that things are changing and a resolution may be at hand. It’s something I hope to explore on FirstNerve in the coming weeks.
To start things off, I’ve linked to this excellent mini-lecture by Dr. Tristram Wyatt, a specialist in pheromones and chemical communication in the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology. His topic is “Success of the smelliest: Pheromones and evolution.” In twelve minutes, Wyatt puts the notion of human sexual pheromones into a clear and concise historical context. Have a look.