The most un­der­rated sense

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH -

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.

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