Martha McClintock is a biopsychologist who specializes in social behavior and the regulation of fertility. It is through her pioneering work that menstrual synchrony amongst social groups of females was discovered to be a result of human pheromonal interactions. During McClintock’s undergraduate work at Wellesley College, she observed that menstrual synchrony was a common phenomenon between her dorm mates and herself (1). Through greater experimentation, she associated this trend was due to pheromonal output of women during social interactions. This work became her senior thesis at Wellesley and was published in Nature in 1971 (2). The discovery of ovarian pheromones has lead to a wider debate on the role these odorless compounds play in human physiology and behavior. From studies on other mammalian species, non-ovarian pheromones have been shown to influence mating preferences, dominance relationships, and stress levels when introduced to a new environment as depending on the emotional state of the previous occupants (3). Pheromone signaling between human females could, in fact, have implications for fertility, conception, and puberty (4). McClintock’s pioneering work in this field has lead to much advancement in the understanding of female interaction.
"Human Pheromones in Female Social Groups,"
Sound Neuroscience: An Undergraduate Neuroscience Journal:
1, Article 11.
Available at: http://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/soundneuroscience/vol2/iss1/11