Olfactory and Vomeronasal Mechanisms of Social Communication in Golden Hamsters

  • Robert E. Johnston


A number of hypotheses have been put forward to characterize the differences in function between the olfactory and vomeronasal sensory systems in vertebrates; these include the suggestions that (1) the vomeronasal system is especially important for reproductive function (Wysocki, 1979, 1989); (2) the vomeronasal system is primarily responsible for responses to relatively large, non-volatile compounds (Ladewig and Hart, 1980; Halpern and Kubie, 1980; Wysocki, Wellington and Beauchamp, 1980), (3) the vomeronasal system may be especially important for relatively hard-wired responses to specialized chemical signals whereas the olfactory system may be more concerned with olfactory cues that need to be learned (Meredith, 1983), (4) the vomeronasal system mediates rewarding properties of scent (Halpern, 1988), (5) the olfactory system is especially important for maintenance functions such as feeding (Wysocki, 1979), (6) the olfactory system is primarily involved in functions that involve pattern (mixture) recognition, such as might occur in individual, kin or species recognition (Johnston, 1985b). All of these hypotheses have merit, but at present they do not provide a general theory or even an adegdate account of all of the phenomena that have been described.


Sexual Experience Olfactory System Olfactory Mucosa Vaginal Secretion Estrous Female 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert E. Johnston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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