During the early years following puberty, many young men will approach females with enthusiasm. However, these young post-pubescent adolescent males are sometimes shocked to find that the mating game is not as easy to play as they would like. Sometimes, human males can be flat-out rejected by interested females for a very long time. In some cases, human males may respond to a lack of female attention by avoiding contact with females altogether. Luckily, this does not seem common. After all, everybody can find love in this world, right? Well, some men can certainly respond negatively to rejection, as nobody likes the feeling of being rejected by a member of the opposite sex. However, the memories of being rejected may linger. The memories of being rejected by the opposite sex can be emotionally damaging to the point where some men may become discouraged from making further advancements later on. Although this behavior may seem complicated enough for Freudian analysis, it turns out that even insects can learn to give up on approaching females if they are rejected enough times.
Just like humans, insects have memories. The memories we have help us to determine what we are, and are not, capable of doing. Our memories tell us who we are, and insects are no different. A recent study observed the behavior adopted by male fruit flies that had been turned down repeatedly by female fruit flies that were uninterested in mating. According to Scientists at the University of California at Riverside, male fruit flies that fall victim to female rejection numerous times will eventually lose their enthusiasm for securing mating opportunities. Male fruit flies seem to be aware that approaching females is necessary in order to find willing sexual partners. Fruit flies also want to experience rewarding and pleasurable sexual encounters, but their memories will determine whether or not they actually will successfully mate.
The recent study showed that an insect’s hormone levels determine their ability to form memories. All insects possess a type of hormone that is referred to as a Juvenile hormone. (JH). This hormone is associated with dopamine production, and when levels are high, memories are formed. Male fruit flies that were given drugs to mimic high levels of JH eventually learned that approaching females was a waste of time after experiencing repeated rejections. Levels of JH and other hormones that regulate memory formation fluctuate at specific stages during an insect’s life. This research raises the question of how human hormones influence sexual behavior and cognitive functioning.
Do you think that this insect behavior mirrors human behavior? Do you think that our hormones and neurotransmitters communicate in order to facilitate sexual behavior?