Our lab is studying how cues in the environment are detected and transformed into electrical activity in the brain to generate behavior

We are identifying the coding logic of all aspects of the system:
(1) specific pheromone chemosignals that generate stereotypic behavior
(2) sensory neurons that detect pheromones and other specialized chemosignals
(3) the neural and molecular mechanisms in the brain that result in stereotypic behavior

We are studying several independent stereotypic behaviors in the mouse: male-male aggression, pup-suckling, inter-species fear, female reproductive behavior, and scent marking. Analysis of these behaviors in parallel will enable us to determine the neural mechanisms that specify each behavior as well as the common mechanisms that underlie general principles of stereotypic behavior.


  • Current lab members
  • Alumni




Free floating double fluorescent in situ hybridization

Dissociated vomeronasal neuron calcium imaging


The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) home page

Dorris Neuroscience Center home page

TSRI Kellogg School of Science and Technology

UCSD Neurosciences Graduate Program


Mouse cartoon Adobe Illustrator file

Selected publications

Original Articles:

Keller JA, Chen J, Simpson S, Wang EHJ, Lilascharoen V, George O, Lim BK, Stowers L (2018). Voluntary urination control by brainstem neurons that relax the urethral sphincter. Nature Neuroscience 21:1229–38 link

Dey S, Chamero P, Pru JK, Chien MS, Ibarra-Soria X, Spencer KR, Logan DW, Matsunami H, Peluso JJ, Stowers L (2015). Cyclic Regulation of Sensory Perception by a Female Hormone Alters Behavior. Cell 161:1334-44. pdf

Kaur AW, Ackels T, Kuo T-H, Cichy A, Dey S, Hays C, Kateri M, Logan DW, Marton TF, Spehr M, Stowers L (2014). Murine Pheromone Proteins Constitute a Context-Dependent Combinatorial Code Governing Multiple Social Behaviors. Cell 157:676-688. pdf

Kaur AW, Dey S, Stowers L (2013). Live Cell Calcium Imaging of Dissociated Vomeronasal Neurons. Methods Mol Biol 1068:189-200.pdf

Li Q, Korzan WJ, Ferrero DM, Chang RB, Roy DS, Buchi M, Lemon JK, Kaur AW, Stowers L, Fendt M, Liberles SD (2013). Synchronous Evolution of an Odor Biosynthesis Pathway and Behavioral Response. Curr Biol 23:11-20. pdf

Logan DW, Brunet LJ, Webb WR, Cutforth T, Ngai J, Stowers L (2012) Learned Recognition of Maternal Signature Odors Mediates the First Suckling Episode in Mice. Curr Biol 22:1998-2007. pdf

Flanagan KA, Webb W, Stowers L (2011) Analysis of male pheromones that accelerate female reproductive organ development. PLoS One 6(2):e16660. pdf

Papes F, Logan DW, and Stowers L (2010) The vomeronasal organ mediates interspecies defensive behaviors through detection of protein pheromone homologs. Cell 141:692-703. (Cover article, see also Preview Cell 141:568-570, Science 328:960) pdf

Barros CS, Calbrese B, Chamero P, Roberts AJ, Korzus EJ, Lloyd KC, Stowers L, Mayford M, Halpain S, and Müller U (2009) Impaired maturation of dendritic spines without disorganization of cortical cell layers in mice lacking NRG1ErbB signaling in the CNS. PNAS 106:4507-4512. pdf

Logan DW, Marton TF, and Stowers L (2008) Species specificity in major urinary proteins by parallel evolution. PLoS ONE 3:e3280. pdf

Chamero P, Marton TF, Logan DW, Flanagan K, Cruz J, Saghatelian A, Cravatt BF, and Stowers L (2007) Identification of protein pheromones that promote aggressive behavior. Nature 450:899-902. pdf

Loconto J, Papes F, Chang E, Stowers L, Jones EP, Takada T, Kumanovics A, Fischer Lindahl K, Dulac C (2003) Functional Expression of Murine V2R Pheromone Receptors Involves Selective Association with the M10 and M1 Families of MHC Class Ib Molecules. Cell 112:607-618. pdf

Stowers L, Holy TE, Meister M, Dulac C, Koentges G (2002) Loss of Sex Discrimination and Male-Male Aggression in Mice Deficient for TRP2. Science 295:1493-1500. pdf

Reviews, Chapters, Editorials, and Media:

Mukhopadhyay S, Stowers L (2018). Social Behavior: How the Brain Thinks like a Mom. Curr Biol 28:R746-R749. link

Dey S, Stowers L (2016) Think You Know How Smell Works? Sniff Again. Cell 165:1566-7. pdf

Stowers L, Liberles SD (2016) State-dependent responses to sex pheromones in mouse. Curr Opin Neurobiol 38:74-9. pdf

LDOS Media Lab (2015) Law of Attraction (radio segment covering Dey et al. 2015 paper above). Aug 21. link

Stowers L, Kuo TH (2015) Mammalian pheromones: emerging properties and mechanisms of detection. Curr Opin Neurobiol 34:103-9. pdf

Stowers L, Cameron P, and Keller JA (2013) Ominous odors: olfactory control of instinctive fear and aggression in mice. Curr Opin Neurobiol 23:339-45. pdf

Stowers L and Logan DW (2010) Sexual dimorphism in olfactory signaling. Curr Opin Neurobiol 20:770-5. pdf

Stowers L, Papes F, Logan DW (2010) Interspecies fear signals. Cell Podcast 141. youtube link

Stowers L and Logan DW (2010) Olfactory mechanisms of stereotyped behavior: on the scent of specialized circuits. Curr Opin Neurobiol 20:274-80. pdf

Wilson DA, Baker H, Brunjes P, Gilbertson TA, Hermer L, Hill DL, Matsunami H, Meredith M, Mistretta CM, Smeets MAM, Stowers L, and Zhuang H (2009) Chemoreception scientists gather under the Florida sun: the 31st annual association for chemoreception sciences meeting. Ann NY Acad Sci 1170 Suppl 1:1-11. pdf

Stowers L, and Logan DW (2008) LUSH shapes up for a starring role in olfaction. Cell 133:1137-1139. pdf

Stowers L (2007) Pheromones that promote aggression in male mice. Nature Podcast Dec 6. audio link

Stowers L and Marton T (2005) What is a pheromone? Mammalian pheromones reconsidered. Neuron 46:692-702. pdf

Stowers L (2004) Neuronal development: specifying a hard-wired circuit. Curr Biol 14(2): R62-64. pdf

Contact Us

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9365 Waples St., Suite E
San Diego, CA 92121

Physical address
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