comitology.com Discription: Comitology is the study of comity: the informal and voluntary recognition by courts of one jurisdiction of the laws and judicial decisions of another. In the European Union it refers to the committee system which oversees the acts implemented by the European Commission. proceptivity.com Proceptivity The literature provides hints suggesting that during the periovulatory phase, women show an increased sexual motivation that biases recognition performance towards objects with a sexual meaning. In particular, when visual stimuli such as nonsense syllables, sexual stimuli, pictures of babies and stimuli related to body care are randomly presented to women at different phases of their menstrual cycle, women at their periovulatory phase (tested after the occurrence of a distinct increase in urinary concentration of LH) display an enhanced number of correctly (pictures of nude men) and falsely (mainly pictures of women occupied with body care) recognized sex stimuli when compared with women tested during the mid-luteal phase (4–10 days before menses) (Krug et al., 1994). More recently, Krug et al. have shown that women at their periovulatory phase (tested also after the occurrence of a distinct increase in urinary concentration of LH) exhibit a higher event-related brain potential, specifically, a higher late positive component (average potential 500–700 ms post-stimulus. This electroencephalogram parameter is an indicator of stimulus processing taking place after stimulus selection for working memory) after watching pictures of nude men (sex stimuli) than after watching pictures of babies (stimuli eliciting maternal attitudes), women occupied with body care (stimuli of body care) and ordinary people (neutral control stimuli) (Krug et al., 2000). In contrast, during menses (day 2–5 of the menstrual cycle) and luteal phase (4–9 days before menses), this relationship is not apparent. In addition, when women were asked to rate the subjective emotional value of the pictures as positive, neutral or negative, sex stimuli were rated less often as negative during the periovulatory phase than during menses and the luteal phase. These results disagree with a previous study by Johnston and Wang which observed an increase in late positivity to sexual stimuli during the luteal phase (after day 21 of the test cycle) compared with the ovulatory phase (days 11–18 of the test cycle) (Johnston and Wang, 1991). We have to note, however, that Johnston and Wang did not determine the ovulatory phase using an ovulation test kit designed to detect urinary LH. Instead, they counted 14 days backward from the first day of the menses following the testing day and, therefore, results from both studies are not comparable. Further evidence suggesting that women experience enhanced sexual motivation around the time of ovulation comes from the study by Penton-Voak et al. reporting that Japanese female university undergraduate students judge men’s faces that are more masculinized as physically more attractive when asked during the follicular phase (between the end of menses and ovulation, which was assumed to occur 14 days before the onset of menses) than during the luteal phase (after the day of putative ovulation and before the onset of menses) (Penton-Voak et al., 1999). Likewise, for a short-term relationship, British undergraduate women, when asked during the follicular phase rather than during the luteal phase, preferred face shapes that were more masculine. In contrast, no cyclic changes in face shape preference were detected when women judged male face attractiveness for a long-term relationship or when using oral contraception (Penton-Voak et al., 1999). Data from the previous study have been recently endorsed by Penton-Voak and Perret using a self-selected, non-undergraduate population of women who responded to a questionnaire published in a British Broadcasting Corporation magazine (Penton-Voak and Perret, 2000). In particular, Penton-Voak and Perret found that non-pill-using female respondents in the follicular phase (days 6–14 since the onset of the last menses) of their menstrual cycle were more likely to choose a masculine face when presented with feminized, average or masculinized male faces than those in menses and the luteal phase. This outcome has been further reinforced by Johnston et al. who reported that female undergraduate volunteers exhibit a shift toward a more masculine male face preference during the high-risk phase (defined as the 9 days prior to ovulation, which was estimated to occur 14 days prior to the onset of menses either following or taking place between the experimental sessions) of the menstrual cycle (Johnston et al., 2001). Furthermore, Johnston et al. evidenced no menstrual shift in other facial preferences, including attractive female, dominant male, dominant female, etc. Such a result rejects the hypothesis that the observed effect of menstrual cycle on women’s preferences toward male faces is due to a general change in mood over the menstrual cycle. Taking into account the enhanced female preference at mid-cycle for masculinized faces, it is not surprising that non-pill-using women prefer darker photographs of male faces during the first two-thirds of the menstrual cycle when compared with the last third (Frost, 1994). Skin colour is sexually dimorphic within all races, with men having browner and ruddier complexions than women as result of differing melanin and haemoglobin levels in the skin’s outer layers. Therefore, a preference for darker photographs of male faces around ovulation could be considered a preference for exaggeration of a male trait (Penton-Voak and Perret, 2000). Periodic changes in women’s preferences across the menstrual cycle are not restricted only to visual signals, but also to odour stimuli. Within this context, the studies by Hummel et al. and Grammer are worth noting (Hummel et al., 1991; Grammer, 1993), in which normally ovulating women evaluated androstenone, a human unattractive sweat substance with putative pheromone-like characteristics and with higher production in males, as more pleasant near ovulation [days 6–14 of the menstrual cycle counted from the first day of the last menstruation (Grammer, 1993) or the day before and the day of ovulation evaluated by a gynaecologist (Hummel et al., 1991)] when compared with either menses or days 15–28 of the menstrual cycle (Grammer, 1993) or any other time of the menstrual cycle (Hummel et al., 1991). Gangestad and Thornhill have shown that normally cycling, i.e. non-pill-using, women tend to prefer the odour of men with low fluctuating asymmetry [fluctuating asymmetry is a marker of developmental imprecision or instability, i.e. decreased individual’s ability to cope with genetic and environmental perturbations during development (Gangestad and Thornhill, 1998). It is evidenced by absolute deviation from perfect symmetry on characters that are, on average, symmetrical on the two sides of the body (Gangestad and Thornhill, 1998; Rikowski and Grammer, 1999)] near the fertility peak of their menstrual cycle (days 6–14 counted from the first day of the last menstruation), whereas normally ovulating women during their low fertility stages (all days of the menstrual cycle except days 6–14) and women using a contraceptive pill, show no significant preference for either symmetrical or asymmetrical men’s odour. Thornhill and Gangestad have recently replicated these findings using a larger sample and statistically controlling for certain potential confounds, such as men’s hygiene practices (Thornhill and Gangestad, 1999). In addition, Thornhill and Gangestad showed that women’s preference for the scent of facially attractive men is greatest during their period of peak fertility (estimated as the average of two sets of values obtained following a forward and a backward method). The studies by Gangestad and Thornhill (Gangestad and Thornhill, 1998; Thornhill and Gangestad 1999) are not the only reports showing cyclical changes in women’s odour preference associated with men’s physical traits. Rikowski and Grammer have also observed that women in the most fertile phase of their menstrual cycle (days 5–16 counted from the first day of the last menstruation) tend to prefer the odour of facially attractive and symmetric men (Rikowski and Grammer, 1999). We should note that low fluctuating asymmetry is associated with higher facial attractiveness, men’s number of sexual partners, frequency of their partner’s orgasms and number of extra-pair copulation partners (Gangestad and Thornhill, 1998). Interestingly, British women’s extra-pair copulation rates are significantly higher during days 6–14 of the menstrual cycle (counted from the first day of the last menstruation after standardization to a cycle of 28 days) when compared with days 15–28 (Bellis and Baker, 1990).