Social life and biological life: interaction, a symphony

A study has just shown that the importance of the time a teenager spends in adulthood with his father for his testosterone production, once he becomes a father himself.[1]. For Professor Renেনে Echochard, Professor and Writer at Claude-Bernard University (Lyon I) Men and women, what neuroscience tells usPublished by Editions Artège, this study is part of a series of works that show the importance of our biology, the importance of family relationships, and the subtleties of male physiology to help us manage our lives, which are very poorly known to the general public. Maintenance.

Genetics: So our social relationships affect our biology? And vice versa?

Rene Echochard: In fact, there is a symphony between what we feel in contact with the people around us and what happens to us at the level of hormones. Neuroscience calls this bio-behavioral synchrony. Moreover, what happens to hormone levels at certain stages of growth (in the life of the uterus, the first year of the newborn which is called mini-puberty and puberty) leaves a mark in us that retains youth.

Our hormones, which work throughout the body and especially the brain, help us manage our lives. So, for example, a few hours before waking up, cortisol increases to prepare the body for waking life. Our hormones are with us at the level of the body, but also of the mind. Thus, our hormones affect our social life.

Our social relationships in turn affect our hormones: for example, in humans, testosterone increases when a teacher or politician entering a classroom encounters his or her audience. Similarly, testosterone increases when you win a competition or when you succeed. A comparative but less potent phenomenon has been observed in women. What we feel affects our hormonal climate. It makes us more capable of fulfilling our tasks.

G: What does testosterone do to the male psyche?

D: Robert Sapolsky, an American scientist in biology and neurology at Stanford University, describes the three effects of testosterone on the psyche: it gives us confidence, it makes us more sensitive to classification, it expands our responses. It participates in the male mentality.

Testosterone gives a person confidence. This is often a good thing. But one must be careful, because there is only one step from self-confidence to extra confidence. People can be very sure of themselves.

Under the influence of his testosterone, the man became more prepared to defend his place in the hierarchy. According to the principle of subsidiary, it is not the parents and the state who set the educational rules for children. The father of the family is inclined to defend this principle by his testosterone. Of course, the man must learn to control his temper so that his spurs do not climb too fast like a rooster. But, his masculine tendency to defend his place participates in his mission as the protector of the family.

Testosterone also has an amplifying effect: it removes barriers. Testosterone pushes you forward without looking too much into the details. This makes you less sensitive to the sensitive dimensions of the situation. In addition to the great feminine openness to details and emotional dimensions, the man tends to defend other aspects of reality, he is more rational, less focused on the moment, less concerned with the small things in life.

These two angles of accepting reality, emotional or rational, in detail or in a more global way, benefit from being considered as a complement between men and women.

G: Are there other examples of these interactions between social relations and biology?

D: Yes, really, without a doubt. Thus, for example, many parents say: “Our children are our parents. We did not feel able to do this until we had children. Many women are hesitant to have children, do not feel like mothers. Many men can’t even imagine giving a bottle or taking their child to school.

Nature has predicted this … Children are our parents. Biologically. The baby’s round face, his smell, his facial expressions and then his smile, when he calls us mom or dad …, we secrete oxytocin, a hormone that causes us to be attached to him. The prolactin that a mother secretes when she is breastfed works in her brain to take care of the baby.

The proximity of the mother, the first pregnant woman then carries her baby in her arms, changes the climate of the male hormones and encourages her, too, to be attached to the child and to the mother: she also secretes oxytocin, the hormone. The attachment, as well as prolactin, is lower in breast milk than in breast milk but higher than normal. This encourages her to take care of her home. Also, the baby’s testosterone levels are lower than normal in the first 6 months. This makes him more inclined to stay with his family.

Our hormones are a help given to us by nature. This is an important factor in doing everything possible not to change our biology. In the book Men, women, what neuroscience tells us, I give many more examples. This is especially true of female hormones, which are so valuable to preserve!

G: Does this study show that fatherhood is transmitted from father to son?

D: Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either Getler et al. However, our mentality is not determined by biology alone. There is an innate part and an acquired part. Masculinity prepares a person to be a biological parent. However, this innate part must be developed. Just as we need to develop skills in sports, music, or math, we need to build our chances of fatherhood, based on masculinity.

Three determining factors can be cited for this: the attitudes of others, education and the independent choice of the individual. The presence of the father along with the son is part of the education. Its scientific publication Getler Establishing a link between a father’s attitude towards his adolescent child and testosterone levels in adolescence shows that there is a biological component to the infection. There is one more psychological part. If masculinity and the role of the father are valued by the mother and the rest of the family, the son is encouraged to develop his masculine abilities; Conversely, expressions such as “you are as good as your father” or “you are beautiful, you are not like your father” can push the boy out of his way to the horizon of a man and a father. Ultimately, whatever is acquired by biology or education, the actions taken independently of the young man may prepare him for paternity or, conversely, keep him away from it.

G: The author says that there are sensitive periods, when some things are sent more voluntarily. What about?

D: This study shows that at every stage of life something is preparing for the future.

In the life of the womb, in the womb of our mother, we have received much more than our body. We have also got the basis of our mentality. This In the womb The first trends and qualifications specific to femininity and masculinity are engraved: our more sympathetic character or more propensity is interested in the rules of activity, for example. These are the first effects of our female (XX) or male (XY) pair of chromosomes.

In the first year after birth, which is a young age, this effect continues through the hormones estradiol for the girl, testosterone for the boy. Thus, from conception to the end of the first year, the foundations of our personality are carved in us.

Childhood allows us to develop masculine or feminine tendencies and abilities, aided by the education received, such as a study-end internship that allows us to deepen what has been achieved during our theoretical course. This is a valuable second step in developing a sexual identity.

But we are still far from sexual maturity, which requires the action of the third period of maturity from adolescence to adulthood. This third time, called the second dozen by Anglo-Saxon educators, runs from adolescence to about 22 years of age in young women and up to 24 years in young men.

[1] Li T. Gatler et al, evidence of a sensitive period of adolescence for family experiences affecting adult male testosterone production, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.2202874119

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