Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

The Power of Women’s Tears

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Science Signaling  18 Jan 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 156, pp. ec19
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4156ec19

Emotional tears are thought to be uniquely human and have puzzled biologists and psychologists for many years. Using a double-blind study comparing female emotional tears with control saline, Gelstein et al. investigated whether human tears may convey a chemosignal. Even though the tears could not be smelled, tears nevertheless decreased the sexual appeal of women’s faces. Female tears also lowered sexual arousal and reduced testosterone levels in men. A subsequent brain imaging study highlighted differences in functional activation in the brain. Emotional tears thus seem to contain chemosensory signals related to sociosexual behavior.

S. Gelstein, Y. Yeshurun, L. Rozenkrantz, S. Shushan, I. Frumin, Y. Roth, N. Sobel, Human tears contain a chemosignal. Science 331, 226–230 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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