The findings, which deepen our understanding of pheromone function and how learning occurs in the earliest days of life, are reported in the October 10th issue of the journal Current Biology, published by Cell Press, by a team including Gérard Coureaud and Anne-Sophie Moncomble and colleagues from the Centre Européen des Sciences du Goût in Dijon, which is supported by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and the Université de Bourgogne and Inra. Benoist Schaal, another author of the study, is the director of the Centre Européen des Sciences du Goût.
Newborn mammals are highly dependent on their mother's milk for survival, and they typically exhibit a defined sequence of actions when searching for milk. This searching behavior rapidly becomes increasingly directed, showing that mammalian newborns are efficient learners. Past studies of this very early learning in the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) have shown that newborn pups engage in typical food-searching movements in response to olfactory signals that include the mammary pheromone secreted in mother's milk. The ability of newborns to rapidly improve their milk-finding skills likely involves learning that "new" odors--for example, those from the mother's abdomen, or of milk itself--are associated with food.
In the new work, the researchers investigated whether the mammary pheromone plays a role in the ability of newborns to learn to associate other odors with the availability of milk. By presenting newborns with the pheromone in combination with an otherwise "neutral" odor and subsequently testing whether the neutral odor alone would later elicit the typical food-searching behavior in the pups, the researchers were able to show that the pheromone is indeed effective at promoting the ability of the newborns to learn the significance of new odors. The researchers showed that this pheromone-induced learning is efficient from the time of birth and is capable of promoting the learning of successive different odorants presented to newborn pups.
Given its ability to promote the learning of new olfactory cues, the mammary pheromone may act as a kind of organizing signal that boosts the brain's ability to associate new odors with milk availability. This would in turn facilitate an essential skill: the ability of newborn pups to rapidly hone their suckling instincts during the first days of life.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy