sense of smell

20 Stories

Sniff Myth, Busted: Humans Can Smell as Well as Dogs

Analysis of more than 1K olfactory studies challenges longtime belief

(Newser) - A dog's nose may be wetter than yours, but don't count yourself out when it comes to tracking a scent just as well as your canine companion. A new mega-study in the journal Science refutes the longtime belief that dogs' noses are vastly superior to our own, reporting... More »

$100K Project Uses 3-Foot Rats to Sniff Out Crime

It's not the first time their noses have been put to use

(Newser) - Giant African pouched rats that grow to three feet long can't see well, but their keen sense of smell has already made them indispensable in the hunt for anything from tuberculosis in humans to buried TNT in former war zones (they've already found 1,500 land mines in... More »

Simple Sniff Test May Diagnose Autism

Study: Kids with disorder don't react to pleasant or unpleasant smells

(Newser) - A surprisingly simple sniff test shows promise in detecting autism in kids—perhaps even in those who aren't yet toddlers because it doesn't involve responding to questions. Israeli researchers found that autistic kids don't react strongly to strong smells, of either the pleasant or unpleasant variety, reports... More »

Now You Can Smell Famous Death Scenes

Museum puts you in a morgue-like box to explore storytelling through scent

(Newser) - If you've ever wondered what it was like at the scene of someone's death, scientists in the Netherlands are taking you one morbid step closer. They've created a new and unusual museum exhibit that pipes the sounds and smells of four famous death scenes into boxes, like... More »

Your Sense of Smell May Predict Longevity

Seniors who couldn't detect common scents died sooner than peers

(Newser) - Seniors who want to gauge their own longevity might want to take a simple sniff test. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that older people with a lousy sense of smell were significantly more likely to be dead in five years than those who could easily detect common scents,... More »

Elephants Win Most Discerning Nose Award

They have twice as many olfactory genes as dogs and 5 times as many as humans

(Newser) - Dogs may hold the reputation as having the best noses among mammals, but when it comes to the number of genes associated with smell, the elephant stands alone. By a mile. New findings published in Genome Research suggest that African elephants have 2,000 active olfactory genes, the highest number... More »

For Moms, Smell of Newborns Is Like a Drug

Study shows that mothers' brains light up with pleasure at the scent

(Newser) - The smell of a newborn isn't just a pleasant sensation for moms—it might be closer to an addiction, a new study suggests. Montreal researchers found that when women who had given birth recently smelled an infants' pajamas, their brains' reward circuits lit up, reports LiveScience . The dopamine surge... More »

Scientists Figure Out Why Bad Wine Smells Bad

Yes, it's a tainted cork, but for a strange scientific reason

(Newser) - Those fluent in wine-speak sometimes refer to a wine being "corked"—meaning it has a nasty, musty smell upon being opened and doesn't taste so hot, either. Scientists have long identified the culprit as a chemical in the cork known as TCA, but new research from Japanese... More »

Moles Smell in Stereo

Study says they get signals from both nostrils

(Newser) - The common mole is blind and mostly deaf, which means it relies on its nose to find dinner. Not a problem: A study at Vanderbilt University makes the case that moles smell in stereo. Researchers who watched a mole sniff out a meal determined that the little critter relied on... More »

Dogs Can Smell Lung Cancer

Scientists hope to build 'electronic nose'

(Newser) - Dogs are lung cancer detection experts, a study finds. They "have no problem identifying tumor patients," says a researcher in Austria, and that could lead to earlier diagnoses. Dogs who smelled 120 breath samples were able to sniff out cancer 70% of the time, a very "encouraging"... More »

Psychopaths Have a Lousy Sense of Smell

Study suggests it's no coincidence both originate in orbito-frontal complex

(Newser) - If you know someone with a terrible sense of smell, you might want to be careful around them. A new study suggests a link between a crappy olfactory and being psychopathic, AFP reports via Raw Story . Both phenomena have separately been linked to the same part of the brain, the... More »

We Can Determine Personality by Smell

Our ability to judge personality is nothing to sniff at

(Newser) - You are what you reek? It turns out that we can tell a lot about someone's personality just by their smell, according to the New York Daily News . Sixty people in Poland wore the same T-shirt for three nights, and did not use soap, smoke, drink, or "eat... More »

FDA: Get Off Smell-Killing Zicam Nasal Spray, Now

Agency received over 130 reports of loss of smell sense

(Newser) - The Food and Drug Administration is calling on consumers to stop using Zicam nasal treatments because they can permanently kill the sense of smell, the Wall Street Journal reports. Zicam is an over-the-counter cold and allergy medication sold in several forms; customers should reject internasal products that contain zinc. The... More »

Opera Sounds Good, But How Does It Smell?

New work opening at Guggenheim blasts 23 scents at audience

(Newser) - A new opera premiering at the Guggenheim Museum in New York later this month will be a feast for the ears, the eyes—and the nose. Green Aria, a 30-minute "scent opera" years in the making, pairs music with 23 distinct odors blasted at the audience via individual... More »

Feeling Lonely? Give Your Sweetie's T-Shirt a Sniff

Men, women report snuggling with clothing

(Newser) - Both men and women cuddle with and smell their loved ones' clothing when they can't be together, MSNBC reports. "When I was going through high school and college, I would wear a boyfriend’s shirt to bed," said the author of a new study on how scent evokes... More »

Goodbye Smell, Hello Misery

You lose more than the ability to sniff roses without this key sense

(Newser) - When ranking physical attributes we’d hate to lose, most people put sense of smell at the bottom, on par with losing a big toe. But when Elizabeth Zierah lost hers—and thus her sense of taste—3 years ago after catching a cold, the ensuing string of scentless and... More »

Coffee's Smell Alone Can Perk You Up

Beverage's mere aroma increases wakefulness, study shows

(Newser) - The aroma of coffee is enough to wake you up, a new study shows. Smelling coffee stimulated the expression of genes known to reverse the damaging effect of stress and sleep deprivation in test animals’ brains, international researchers tell LiveScience. Coffee’s stimulating effects have been known for ages, but... More »

Patch Aims to Trigger Sex With Smell

Can a lemony 'libido patch' for women stir sensuality?

(Newser) - A new patch is being marketed to make women think "sexy time"—but does it really work? Scentuelle’s “libido patch” claims to “turn you on” and “enhance feelings of sexuality through our sense of smell." Linda Dahlstrom of MSNBC tried it, and was... More »

Tiny Shocks Win by a Nose

Sense of smell shows electric response; technique could help PTSD patients

(Newser) - Electric shocks can sharpen the sense of smell, a finding that suggests new ways of altering sensory perception, the Chicago Tribune reports. MRIs showed subjects’ brains actually changing after researchers administered tiny shocks, which improved their ability to distinguish between similar smells. Because many psychological conditions relate to the senses,... More »

Smell is Key for Sex and Sanity

Psychologist calls it the most emotionally evocative in new book

(Newser) - Sight may be key for survival, but sex and sanity need the oft-overlooked sense of smell, says a Rhode Island psych prof. Rachel Herz’s The Scent of Desire argues that smell sparks the strongest feelings and memories, often in surprising ways: One woman hated the scent of roses because... More »

20 Stories