British scientists have discovered two neurons in men’s brains which make them prioritise seeking out sex above all else – including food.
Dr Arantza Barrios, senior author of the study from University College London said, “Areas of the brain involved in learning display sex differences in many animals, including humans, but how these differences directly affect behavior is not clear”.
The findings of the new study might be helpful to answer these questions as they demonstrate a direct association between differing male and female behaviours and brain development and structure. “These changes make male brains work differently, allowing males to remember previous sexual encounters and prioritize sex in future situations”. The male worm has a unique neuron, not found in the hermaphrodite worm, which overrides its desire to eat if it can instead mate. They are glial cells that support cells of neurons.
“We can now exploit this system to understand how fully differentiated glia can re-enter the cell cycle and generate neurons”. This could have important therapeutic implications in the future. The cells, dubbed “mystery cells of the male”, have such a powerful pull that the males will prioritise sex above food. While the study was on worms, the British researchers said it provides insight into the differing behaviour of the sexes of other animals, including humans.
The worms were tested by being placed near food and another, sexually available, worm – a higher percentage of male worms slithered over to the would-be sex partner than the food.
The hermaphrodite worm produces its own sperm and does not need a male to reproduce. Male worms who had their MCMS removed also displayed a dislike for the salt, even when it was associated with sex.
Scientists conditioned the worms so that when salt was present they realised that they would be starved.
However, worms starved in the presence of mates as well as salt sought higher concentrations of salt in a new environment. However, when the worms were trained to associate saltiness with starvation and sex, the males headed towards the mineral, while the hermaphrodites continued to avoid the substance.