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Science 338 (6113): 1462-1465

Copyright © 2012 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Pheromonal Induction of Spatial Learning in Mice

Sarah A. Roberts,1 Amanda J. Davidson,1 Lynn McLean,2 Robert J. Beynon,2 Jane L. Hurst1,*

Abstract: Many mammals use scent marking for sexual and competitive advertisement, but little is known about the mechanism by which scents are used to locate mates and competitors. We show that darcin, an involatile protein sex pheromone in male mouse urine, can rapidly condition preference for its remembered location among females and competitor males so that animals prefer to spend time in the site even when scent is absent. Learned spatial preference is conditioned through contact with darcin in a single trial and remembered for approximately 14 days. This pheromone-induced learning allows animals to relocate sites of particular social relevance and provides proof that pheromones such as darcin can be highly potent stimuli for social learning.

1 Mammalian Behaviour and Evolution Group, Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Neston CH64 7TE, UK.
2 Protein Function Group, Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZB, UK.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jane.hurst{at}

Wake up and smell the conflict: odour signals in female competition.
P. Stockley, L. Bottell, and J. L. Hurst (2013)
Phil Trans R Soc B 368, 20130082
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The joy of sex pheromones.
C. Gomez-Diaz and R. Benton (2013)
EMBO Rep. 14, 874-883
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »

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