• By The Financial District

Chemical In Human Body Odor Spurs Aggression Among Women

Sniffing a chemical in human body odor blocks aggression in men but triggers it in women, an analysis published by the journal Science Advances found, Brian P. Dunleavy reported for United Press International (UPI.)

Photo Insert: The chemical hexadecanal, or HEX triggers aggression in women but inhibits it in men.

The chemical in question, called hexadecanal, or HEX, is also emitted by infants when under stress, the researchers said. This may be why the odor it produces leads to more aggressive behavior in women, as it taps into the maternal instinct to protect their offspring, according to the researchers.

At the same time, the HEX scent may also suppress male aggression by design, as it could put the child at risk.

The findings suggest that sex-specific differences in the human olfactory system result in divergent reactions to these "social odors," the researchers said.

"Impulsive aggression is a major factor in the human condition, yet how exactly aggression is triggered or blocked in the human brain remains unclear," wrote the researchers, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

However, "we observed that sniffing a body volatile, namely, HEX, significantly decreased aggression in men yet significantly increased aggression in women," they said. For this study, the researchers recruited 127 participants for a double-blind test in which half were exposed to HEX in unmarked specimen jars.

Study participants took part in a computer game used to measure aggressive behavior, in which each player competes against another "player" -- in reality, a game algorithm -- designed to provoke them.

Science & technology: Scientist using a microscope in laboratory in the financial district.

In a later phase of the game, the participants get to unleash their aggravation by blasting their opponents with a loud noise, and the volume of the blast is recorded as a measure of aggression. The noise blast data indicated that HEX significantly lowered aggression in men but significantly increased it in women, researchers said.

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