The most underrated sense
It’s conventional wisdom that humans’ sense of smell is worse than that of other animals — dogs, mice, moles and even sharks. The truth is, humans are actually pretty good at sniffing out our world. All day long, special cells inside the nose capture chemicals from the environment, sending signals to a squished blob of brain called the olfactory bulb. The bulb relays information to other parts of the brain that link odours to other stimuli in our environments, and to memories and emotions. It’s true that your dog is so good at sniffing partly because she has an extrasensory organ with 50 times more receptors to process scents. But it’s also true that you can smell a banana just as well as she can. Humans can follow a scent trail, researchers recently pointed out. We can detect the sour ping of vomit and decide to move to the next subway car. We can tell by a person’s odour if he works in a coffee shop. And, maybe even whether he’d be a good mate.