How does catnip interact with a cat's brain?

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Offline thedoc

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How does catnip interact with a cat's brain?
« on: 17/07/2012 23:30:01 »
Noeline Viljoen asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris  

I am a grade eight student of Waterkloof High School in Pretoria ,South Africa and I am doing a science expo on catnip and its effects on cats' behaviour.  I could find no information as to what part of the cats brain it influences.  The only information that I could find was that the active ingredient was Nepetalactone which I then accepted into my study as a given fact.
I was wondering if it imitates the effect of a pheromone in the cat's brain.  I am going to do tests on cats with different forms of catnip and different breeds, as this wasn't done in South Africa to date, and then try to make deductions, but if I have more background info on the receptors in the cat's brain it stimulates I could do a more extensive study.

Do you have anything for me to go by ?
Many thanks
Noeline Viljoen

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 17/07/2012 23:30:01 by _system »