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An Arousing Scent

September 18, 2009

An exhausted star basketball player leaves the court and is mobbed by female fans who can’t resist him, or his soaked jersey. Is it his good looks, or a chemical and biological response to his musk that has attracted them?

Claire Wyart and colleagues doing research for the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute tested the female response to male pheromones by asking 48 undergraduate women to sniff either androstadienone—a chemosignal in male sweat—or the control of baker’s yeast, and then watch emotionally charged videos.

They found that the women who sniffed the hormone— and were in a good mood—were more sexually aroused within 15 minutes, and their mood remained elevated for more than an hour

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