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Carmen Agustín, Cell Biology, Functional Biology and Physical Anthropology, Faculty of Biological Sciences

Many animals communicate with the individuals of their own specie through chemical signs, in other words, smells and pheromones that they emit to find a mate, call the attention of the mother, mark their territory against invaders, etc. Chemical signals also allow communication between individuals of different species, for instance, kairomones are signs of predators that move their prey away. However, the behaviour of the animal does not depend on the chemical signal but on the interpretation that the brain makes of these signals according to the physiological state of the animal.

For instance, the same male pheromone which attracts “single” female mouse makes mothers incredible aggressive and attack males. Or the kairomones that contains the urine of cats frighten rats, they become irresistible when rats are infected with the parasite Toxoplasma. In this seminar, we will learn what the brain mechanisms that mediate the perception of odours, pheromones and kairomones are, and how they control the social and sexual behaviour of many animals. Moreover, we will ask ourselves about the role that these chemical signals play in humans. Is love and hate also a matter of noses in us?


Brief Curriculum

Carmen Agustín Pavón was born in Valencia in 1980. She received her doctorate in Neuroscience from the Universitat de València, with a short stay at the Università di Roma La Sapienza. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge, Centre for Genomic Regulation of Barcelona, Imperial College London, and the Universitat Jaume I in Castelló, of which she was also a professor in the degree of Medicine. She is currently a professor in the Faculty of Biological Sciences of the Universitat de València. Her research focuses on the neurobiology of olfaction, emotional behaviour, and the socio-sexual and maternal behaviour. She is also an expert in animal model of diseases of the nervous system. Apart from her research activity, she has been dedicated to scientific dissemination since she won the El·lipse prize of Scientific Dissemination of the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park at the end of 2011 thanks to the work El Maquinista del Doctor Zhivago. She is a blogger on the Naukas and Scilogs extension platforms, and has published articles in the magazines Redes, Mente y Cerebro and Historia y Vida. She has given numerous talks in institutes, scientific cafes and formative events, some of which she has organised.

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Twitter: @CarmenAgustin


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Estimulant les vocacions científiques is a project carried out by the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit of the Universitat de València, with the support of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology and the Ministry of Economics, Industry and Competitivity

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