Abstract

We found that exposure of mice and rats to male but not female experimenters produces pain inhibition. Male-related stimuli induced a robust physiological stress response that results in stress-induced analgesia. This effect could be replicated with T-shirts worn by men, bedding material from gonadally intact and unfamiliar male mammals, and presentation of compounds secreted from the human axilla. Experimenter sex can thus affect apparent baseline responses in behavioral testing.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the following individuals for serving as observers and/or T-shirt donators: N.M. Agalave, A. Brookins, A.J. Chabot-Dore, L.S. Dewberry, G. Hathaway, J. Feingold, T. Gao, M. Hatzopoulou, J.M.C. Mogil, J. Rinz, K. Sandor, A. Scholl, S. Stephenson, J. Su, S. Totsch and L. Topham. Thanks to L.S. Stone for use of her laboratory. This work was supported by an unrestricted grant from the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation (J.S.M.), a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery grant (J.S.M.) and a Research in Undergraduate Institutions grant from the US National Science Foundation (W.F.S.).

Author information

Author notes

    • Robert E Sorge
    •  & Loren J Martin

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

    • Robert E Sorge
    • , Loren J Martin
    • , Kelsey A Isbester
    • , Susana G Sotocinal
    • , Sarah Rosen
    • , Alexander H Tuttle
    • , Jeffrey S Wieskopf
    • , Erinn L Acland
    • , Anastassia Dokova
    • , Basil Kadoura
    • , Philip Leger
    • , Josiane C S Mapplebeck
    •  & Jeffrey S Mogil
  2. Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.

    • Robert E Sorge
    • , Alan P Schumann
    •  & Tammie Quinn
  3. Department of Psychology, Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, USA.

    • Martina McPhail
    •  & Wendy F Sternberg
  4. Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

    • Ada Delaney
    • , Gustaf Wigerblad
    •  & Camilla I Svensson
  5. Research Centre, Sacré Coeur Hospital, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

    • Johannes Frasnelli
  6. Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychologie et Cognition (CERNEC), Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

    • Johannes Frasnelli
  7. Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

    • Jeffrey S Mogil

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Contributions

R.E.S., S.G.S. and J.S.M. conceived of the study. R.E.S., L.J.M. and J.S.M. designed most experiments. R.E.S., L.J.M., K.A.I., S.G.S., S.R., A.H.T., J.S.W., E.L.A., A. Delaney, B.K., P.L., J.C.S.M., M.M., A. Dokova, G.W., A.P.S., T.Q. and W.F.S. collected and analyzed data. J.F. and C.I.S. designed certain experiments. R.E.S., L.J.M. and J.S.M. wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jeffrey S Mogil.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.2935

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