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Jan 02, 2014 06:26 AM EST

Testosterone Levels Crucial to Attracting Potential Mates, Study

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Testosterone levels play a crucial role in attracting potential female partners, according to a John Hopkins University study.

The researchers came to the conclusion after conducting experiments on male canaries. They used the birds because their brain pathways are similar to humans. Male canaries attract females by singing. Researcher Beau Alward said that testosterone manages several areas of the bird brains to generate a physiological response, which in this case was, a birdsong.  

"The hormones in these birds are identical to those in humans and they can regulate brain changes in a similar manner," Gregory Ball from the university's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences said in a press release.

One group of canaries received testosterone in the medial preoptic nucleus or POM (a specific area of the brain). The hormone was injected throughout the brain in the second group, while the third group did not receive any hormone injections at all.

The researchers found that the birds that received testosterone only to the POM sang numerous, low quality songs. On the other hand, the canaries that received testosterone throughout the brain sang high quality songs.

"Our data suggests that testosterone needs to act in different areas of the brain to regulate the specific components of this complex social phenomenon," said Alward. "It appears that, like in so many other species, testosterone in the POM can regulate an animal's motivation, in this case, the motivation to sing.

"However, singing and courting a female is more than just motivation. There is the quality of the song that is required to successfully attract a mate and then the process of attending to the female, or singing to her, when she is there which requires the coordination of multiple brain regions."

The experts added that "these findings could shed light on how testosterone acts in the human brain to regulate speech or help explain how anabolic steroids affect human behaviors."

The finding has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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