Scientists of the University College of London and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York did extensive studies with nematode worms. These worms have no females, only males and hermaphrodites, which can impregnate themselves.They’ve put the worms in a salted arena that they really disliked. The hermaphrodites, who don’t need males to reproduce, tried to leave the salted arena in all possible ways.

With the males, they added possible mates in the arena. They discovered that the males tried to approach the mating partner, despite the salty environment. Their sex trigger was stronger than the urge to leave the hostile environment.

This led the scientists to the discovery of a pair of neurons in the male brain which they called MCM, Mystery Cells of the Male. When they removed the MCM from the male’s brains, they were no longer interested in mating when they were around the hermaphrodites. According to the scientists, this proved that the MCM were responsible for the male worm’s behavior.

Now what does the behavior of worms have to do with men?

Researchers believe that understanding the behavior of single-cell animals could help understand the behavior of humans. They believe that human males also have these MCM.

Most organisms’ sexual behavior is affected by the learning process. The male worm learns to put reproduction before any other needs.

They’ve shown that these neurons are only developed during the sexual maturation of the male species.

Dr Arantza Barrios of UCL's Developmental Biology department, said: "The areas of the brain, involved in learning, are different for males and females in many animals, including humans, but how these differences directly affect behavior is not clear.” They've shown how genetic and developmental differences between the two sexes lead to structural changes in the brain of male worms during sexual maturation.

"These changes make male brains work differently, allowing males to remember previous sexual encounters and prioritize sex in future situations."

Dr. Arantza Barrios, the study’s lead author, explained that they were able to show that the cells from which these male brain neurons are born, share common characteristics to the cells that form human brain neurons, called glial cells.

The MCM neurons are only made from these glial cells that have male chromosomes. How this is done, is still unknown.

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