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Olfaction and Reproductive Behavior

Sexuality and successful reproduction are orchestrated by three kinds of olfactory signals, which operate either with or without our awareness: odors, pheromones, and vasanas. These three types of olfactory signals will be discussed in this entry. Odors are, by definition, molecules at relatively high concentrations that are detected consciously as smells. With experience, odors can become associated with sexual responses (conditioned stimuli), different molecules with a similar smell elicit similar responses (generalization), and yet, as time goes by, the molecules are no longer detectable (habituation). Pheromones, in contrast, operate in minute amounts, without needing to be consciously detected as an odor, and change behavior or hormone function. They are species-specific signals without generalization or habituation and don't become conditioned stimuli. Intermediate are vasanas, a newly ...

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