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Does Your Scent Matter: This is the Weird Science of Smell

Does your scent matter: Understand the Science behind Smell and the Brain
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We all know that your scent does matter. But here we ask why does your scent matter? We’ll explore the science behind olfactory.

Does your scent matter: Understand the Science behind Smell and the Brain
Does your scent matter: Understand the Science behind Smell and the Brain

Does Your Scent Matter: Smell and the Brain

With every whiff you take as you walk by a bakery, a cloud of chemicals comes swirling up your nose. Identifying the smell as freshly baked bread is a complicated process. But, compared to the other senses, the sense of smell is often underappreciated. Scientists studying olfaction have shed light on how our sense of smell works. Providing compelling evidence that it’s more sophisticated than previously thought.

In a survey of 7,000 young people around the world, about half of those between the age of 16 and 30 said that they would rather lose their sense of smell than give up access to technology like laptops or cell phones.

We’re not that acutely aware of our use of olfaction in daily living. 5 percent of our DNA is devoted to olfaction. A fact that emphasizes how important our sense of smell is.

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Does Your Scent Matter: Key Points

  • Scent begins in the nerve receptors at the back of the nose that run up to the brain.
  • Scent is based on chemistry. If you change your chemistry you change your scent.
  • Women prefer men with a better scent when they’re going on a date.
  • The sense of smell outperforms eyesight and hearing in humans, according to research.

Does Your Scent Matter: The Nose Knows

Smell begins at the back of nose. Where millions of sensory neurons lie in a strip of tissue called the olfactory epithelium. The tips of these cells contain proteins called receptors that bind odor molecules. The receptors are like locks. The keys to open these locks are the odor molecules that float past.

People have about 450 different types of olfactory receptors. (For comparison, dogs have about two times as many.) Each receptor can be activated by many different odor molecules. Each odor molecule can activate several different types of receptors. However, the forces that bind receptors and odor molecules can vary greatly in strength. So that some interactions are better “fits” than others.

Think of a lock that you can open by 10 different keys. Two of the keys are a perfect fit and open the door easily. The other eight don’t fit as well, and it takes more jiggling to get the door open.

The complexity of receptors and their interactions with odor molecules are what allow us to detect a variety of smells. Also, what we think of as a single smell is actually a combination of many odor molecules acting on a variety of receptors. Finally, creating an intricate neural code that we can identify as the scent of a rose or freshly-cut grass.

Odors in the Brain

This neural code begins with the nose’s sensory neuron. Once an odor molecule binds to a receptor, it sends an electrical signal that travels from the sensory neurons to the olfactory bulb. A structure at the base of the forebrain that relays the signal to other brain areas for additional processing.

One of these areas is the piriform cortex. A collection of neurons located just behind the olfactory bulb that works to identify the smell. Smell information also goes to the thalamus. A structure that serves as a relay station for all of the sensory information coming into the brain. The thalamus transmits some of this smell information to the orbitofrontal cortex, where taste and smell information combine. What we often attribute to the sense of taste is actually the result of this sensory integration.

The olfactory system is critical when we’re appreciating the foods and beverages we consume. This coupling of smell and taste explains why foods seem lackluster with a head cold.

You’ve probably experienced that a scent can also conjure up emotions and even specific memories, like when a whiff of cologne at a department store reminds you of your favorite uncle who wears the same scent. This happens because the thalamus sends smell information to the hippocampus and amygdala, key brain regions involved in learning and memory.

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A Better Smeller

Although scientists used to think that the human nose could identify about 10,000 different smells, Vosshall and her colleagues have recently shown that people can identify far more scents. Starting with 128 different odor molecules, they made random mixtures of 10, 20, and 30 odor molecules, so many that the smell produced was unrecognizable to participants. The researchers then presented people with three vials, two of which contained identical mixtures while the third contained a different concoction, and asked them to pick out the smell that didn’t belong.

Also, predictably, the more overlap there was between two types of mixtures, the harder they were to tell apart. After calculating how many of the mixtures the majority of people could tell apart, the researchers were able to predict how people would fare with every possible mixture that could be created from the 128 different odor molecules. They used this data to estimate that the average person can detect at least one trillion different smells, a far cry from the previous estimate of 10,000.

The one trillion is probably an underestimation of the true number of smells we can detect. Because there are far more than 128 different types of odor molecules in the world.

Human beings are not poor smellers. In fact, new research suggests that your nose can outperform your eyes and ears, which can discriminate between several million colors and about half a million tones. It’s time to give our sense of smell the recognition it deserves.

Scents and Dating

Check out this quick youtube video for some testimonials about why you should smell good before a date:

Does your scent matter: Scents and Dating

In short, the answer is yes.

All your senses are important, but smell may be the number one element of attraction. One study found that women rank smell above ambition and wealth as a dating factor.

What you smell is a powerful indicator of how compatible you are with someone. Some colognes and perfumes supposedly contain human pheromones, but you can’t bottle up a person’s actual scent.

If your major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes are too similar or too different, you won’t be attracted to the person’s smell. You can’t fight science. The genetic makeup of your date is either compatible with yours, or it’s not. It may take a little time for your nose to adjust to a new, unique smell, but after spending some time together, you can assess whether the person’s smell is a turn-on.

Definitely, try one of our soap bars today. A great blend of all natural scents that will attract even the toughest mates. Good for men and women to smell great.

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Does your scent matter: Key Takeaways

  • Scent begins in the nerve receptors at the back of the nose that run up to the brain.
  • Scent is based on chemistry. If you change your chemistry you change your scent.
  • Women prefer men with a better scent when they’re going on a date.
  • The sense of smell outperforms eyesight and hearing in humans, according to research.
  • The brain is full receptors for all of our senses but the brain carriers more olfactory receptors than any other sense.
  • This means that smell is probably one of our most important sense. Signalling the brain to all sorts of environmental factors.

Finally, we need to make sure we work to restore our sense of smell and keep it working well.

We recommend the aromatherapy of a good bar of soap. Why not try a Capulet Soaps USA soap bar today?

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