10 bizarre and wonderful facts about the sense of smell
We feel different scents every second of our life... but even scientists still don't know everything about the sense of smell. Anyway, there are some amazing scientific facts about it that will definitely surprise you.
You may have noticed that you know how your friends' houses smell, but you don't feel any special odor at home. In fact, your house does smell – you just don't feel it because your nervous system got used to it. It's called olfactory adaptation, and that's also why you can't smell your own breath or body. When we are surrounded by some smells all the time, our brain interpret them as friendly ones and stop telling us to be aware of them. Instead, our nervous system watches out for danger and focuses on new scents.
The senses of smell and taste use the same receptors, so they are directly related. If someone's sense of smell is poor, they will also become less picky in food. People with poor senses of smell and taste tend to add more salt and sugar to their dishes and consume more bad fats.
Environmental conditions play an important role in how we perceive smells. In the summer and spring, there is more moisture in the air, which is good for our olfactory system, so we smell things better.
Anosmia can be temporary or permanent. Temporary anosmia can be caused by inflammation in the nasal passageways, which may result from different nose disorders. To prevent nose disorders, it's important to practice good hygiene, be aware of your allergies and use a humidifier at home if needed.
Your distinct odor is determined by your DNA. Your signature odor type won't change even if you radically change your diet.
Of course, no one still knows the exact number, but scientists discovered that there are no less than a trillion of smells we can identify.
The areas of our brain responsible for memories and smells are closely related. That's why the sense of smell is more successful at triggering memories than any other one. Smell is also the first sense to develop in an organism, which is why it's easier for us to perceive smells and memorize them, even without noticing it.
It's not a miracle – they just have a rare condition called synesthesia. Only 4% of people are synesthetes in some form. In synesthesia, stimulation of one of the senses triggers automatic experiences in another. This way, two or more senses can be linked to each other. Synesthesia is not a disease – some synesthetes even perform better than others on certain tests of memory and intelligence.
The bacteria and fungi that grow in a moist environment do. When you work out, such conditions develop in your underarms and shoes – that's where the smell comes from.
Dogs' sense of smell is extremely powerful, so it often helps them to understand the world better. For example, when you leave for work, the amount of your body odor at home decreases with time, and your dog can easily and quite precisely measure it. From day to day, the dog learns to understand which exact amount of your smell means you'll be home soon. That's how the sense of smell helps your pet to predict your return. Dogs use their noses for many similar purposes in their life.
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