Hedione is one of the jasmonates and smells faintly of magnolia and jasmine. It activates the pheromone receptor VN1R1 in the human olfactory mucosa, as Professor Hanns Hatt’s team discovered in 2015. VN1R1 is one of only five fully functional pheromone receptors in humans – whereas mice have as many as 300.
Together with colleagues from Dresden, the Bochum-based researchers have also demonstrated that the smell of hedione generates gender-specific activation patterns in the brain, which do not emerge in conventional odorous substances. In the study, hedione activated areas in the brain in the limbic system much more strongly than phenethyl alcohol, a traditional floral scent.
The limbic system is associated with emotions, memory, and drive. Additionally and exclusively, one specific area of the hypothalamus reacted more strongly to hedione in women than in men. This area of the brain is involved in the regulation of sex hormone release, including cycle hormones, as well as the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin.