The science of smell
Delve deeper into the how and why of smell with our selection of the scientific realm. Who knows what you'll find?
“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived. The odours of fruits waft me to my southern home, to my childhood frolics in the peach orchard. Other odours, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief. Even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents that start awake sweet memories of summers gone and ripening fields far away.”
Helen Keller 1880-1968
An American author, political activist, and lecturer She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree.
The psychology of smelling
Most of us have at least one memory which is triggered by smell. The effect was famously highlighted by Marcel Proust in his novel 'Á la recherche du temps perdu' (Remembrance of things past) where the scent and taste of a madeleine brings back memories of his aunt. Psychologists continue to be entranced by how smell affects us - and how we smell affects others. Drawing on many different experiences, new theories emerge regularly. You can find out more in this reading list.
How we smell: from nose to brain
This poster will give you more information on how we smell.
FURTHER SCENTED READING & VIDEOS
Sensory Integration Education has made a free short course available ‘Understanding Sensory Processing and Integration in Children: For Parents and Carers’. They hope more people will become aware of sensory integration and processing challenges and learn how even small purposeful changes can make the world a more sensory friendly place.
Transgenic ants shed light on insects’ sense of smell - A Nature article highlights research which reveals how the insects’ brains process smells.
CENTRES OF RESEARCH INTO OUR SENSE OF SMELL
Not-for-profit research institute in West Philadelphia. Their research programs include studies on taste, smell, and sensory perception, as well as research to understand human health, development and behaviour.
Hosted by the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London. They conduct sensory research to understand how the different senses contribute to our perception of the environment, and awareness of ourselves. International Scientific Board comprising philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. Contact: Prof. Barry Smith.
The Weizmann Institute of Science
Prof. Noam Sobel, of the Department of Neurobiology, Israel, is a leading authority on how olfaction affects human behaviour and health. They have developed SmellTracker, an online tool that enables self-monitoring your sense of smell to early diagnosis of COVID-19
The European Chemoreception Research Organization (ECRO) promotes fundamental and applied research in chemosensory science especially olfaction and taste in vertebrates and invertebrates.
Read a Q&A with RIFM's President, James C. Romine, PhD, about the organisation's commitment to transparency.