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Science 331 (6014): 226-230

Copyright © 2011 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Human Tears Contain a Chemosignal

Shani Gelstein,1,* Yaara Yeshurun,1,* Liron Rozenkrantz,1 Sagit Shushan,1,2 Idan Frumin,1 Yehudah Roth,2 Noam Sobel1,{dagger}

Abstract: Emotional tearing is a poorly understood behavior that is considered uniquely human. In mice, tears serve as a chemosignal. We therefore hypothesized that human tears may similarly serve a chemosignaling function. 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.

1 Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.
2 Department of OtoRhinoLaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Edith Wolfson Medical Center, Holon 58100, Israel.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: noam.sobel{at}

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