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Heather Hoffmann

Heather Hoffmann is a Robert M. & Katherine Arnold Seeley Distinguished Professor and Chair of Psychology at Knox College.

I am doing work on human sexual psychophysiology. I am interested in the origins of patterns of sexual attraction and sexual arousal, in other words, what turns people on and why. I have examined the role of learning processes and alcohol use as triggers for sexual compulsivity and sexual risk-taking and olfactory sexual arousal contagion (i.e., whether we can perceive sexual arousal from body odor). I also have an animal lab that is set up to look at the neurochemical correlates of behavior. My original interest had been in developmental differences in learning in rats and the role of monoamine and neuropeptide transmitters in such ontogenetic differences. Students in this lab also work on a broader range of projects, examining how various drugs affect behavior, many focusing on drugs of abuse. Both of these areas of research involve inter- and intra-departmental cooperation, i.e., I have worked with other psychology and neuroscience faculty and students from the biology, biochemistry, and the chemistry departments.

The Role Smell Plays In Sexual Arousal

Human olfaction is fairly sophisticated and sensitive. We can most likely detect approximately one trillion different odorants compared to several million colors and a half million different tones, and we are able to detect odors at very low concentrations, (e.g., […]