Males can contribute the mental development of the offspring before birth, claims a recent study. In this photo, a laboratory assistant holds one hemisphere of a healthy brain, March 14, 2011. Reuters/Denis Balibouse

A study conducted by the researchers at the Indiana University has revealed that males can help develop the mental ability of their offspring during pregnancy. The researchers conducted their study on mice and found that male mice had the ability to impact the neurological development of their offspring.

The findings, which were reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, claim that female mice who were exposed to male pheromones gave birth to infants with advanced mental abilities.

According to lead researcher Sachiko Koyama, this is the first study conducted so far that shows that an exposure to pheromones may “exert an influence across the generation of mammals,” stated Indiana University Newsroom. "We found that male pheromones seem to influence the nutritional environment following birth, resulting in changes to the brain that could extend to future generations," said Koyama.

The researchers believe that, in mice, the male pheromones influence the mental development of the babies through the nursing ability of the mother. Pheromones are the chemical signals that are used as a mode of communication between the members of the same species.

During the study, the researchers observed the development of the mammary glands in mice exposed to the male pheromones. The team noticed that mice with an exposure to male pheromones had well-developed mammary glands, which may have led to improved milk, in terms of quality and quantity. In addition, the same mother mice had longer nursing periods, as compared to mice who were not exposed to the male pheromones.

To assess the level of intelligence in the baby mice, the researchers placed them in a water maze. The maze also had a hidden platform. Baby mice who were born to the mothers exposed to the male pheromones were able to quickly learn and identify the location of the hidden platform.

The researchers concluded that such baby mice have quicker learning abilities and greater spatial memory compared to the babies born to the mice with no exposure to the male pheromones.


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