Women smell male intentions

WASHINGTON: Women can really tell what’s on the male mind by the “scent of a man”. Researchers in the US say women respond to a man’s sexual perspiration differently than they do to his normal sweat.

Denise Chen, assistant professor of psychology at Rice University, looked at the process the female brain undergoes to encode the smell of sexual sweat from men. Researchers studied natural human sexual sweat using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Chen and her colleagues asked 20 heterosexual guys to stop wearing deodorant and scented products for a few days. Then they told the men to put small pads in their armpits as they watched pornographic videos and became aroused (the researchers confirmed, using electrodes, that the images did the job). Later, the guys were asked to exchange those pads for fresh pads to collect the sweat they produced when they weren’t aroused. Then the researchers recruited 19 brave women to smell the men’s pads while undergoing brain scans.

Sure enough, the women’s brains responded very differently depending on which sweat they sniffed. The sexual sweat, but not the normal sweat, activated the right orbitofrontal cortex and the right fusiform cortex, brain areas that help us recognize emotions and perceive things, respectively. Both regions are in the right hemisphere, which is generally involved in smell, social response, and emotion.

The findings bolster the idea that humans do communicate via subconscious chemical signals, notes Chen in her study, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Our sexual intentions, in other words, may be a lot clearer than we ever intended them to be. That crush you have on your co-worker? She may already know — at least subconsciously.

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