How does the brain smell

Follow your nose: the sense of smell is so important

Status: 03/17/2020 10:00 a.m.
The sense of smell is the most immediate of the human senses and is closely related to memories and feelings.

Our nose is the most underrated sense organ. It plays a major role in our lives, mostly unconsciously. Our sense of smell warns us: It protects against spoiled food, poisonous gases or smoke. And without the sense of smell, we wouldn't be able to taste and enjoy either. Because while the tongue can only recognize five flavors, the nose distinguishes more than 10,000 different scents that help to shape the taste sensation. The sense of smell is the most immediate of the human senses, it is closely linked to memories and feelings.

This is how smelling works

On both sides of the nasal septum there are olfactory mucous membranes equipped with olfactory cells. These have receptors for around 350 different fragrances. Scent stimuli are conducted via nerve pathways into the olfactory brain, from where they go directly to the hypothalamus and the limbic system. These areas of the brain play a major role in human memory, emotions and instincts.

Love goes through your nose

This also explains why the saying "I can smell you good" has a lot to do with it. Because the nose plays a major role in choosing a partner. The odor molecules that a person secretes contain information about the genetic profile and the immune system. Studies have shown that women often choose men whose odor profile is very different from their own. The advantage of the different genes for the offspring: better chances of coping with diseases.

Every person's body odor is individual. And it is this natural scent that unconsciously influences the choice of partner, even if it is overlaid by scents from shower gel, deodorant or perfume.

The sense of smell is already developed in the womb

The sense of smell is already developed in the womb and is almost fully developed at birth. Babies rely on their noses: it helps them find their mother's breast and plays an important role in orientation and bonding. In the first years of life, the olfactory memory is also trained. Many smell impressions, so-called olfactory impressions, leave their traces in the brain and can be remembered later.

The olfactory sense of pregnant women is particularly sensitive

Pregnant women have a particularly sensitive sense of smell and often develop aversions to certain foods, smells or smoke. Scientists see this as a mechanism that is supposed to protect the child from potentially harmful influences from food or the environment. With age, the sense of smell weakens. Smoking, chemicals and frequent contact with dirt and dust also reduce the ability to smell.

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Arte | Xenius | 03/19/2020 | 4:50 pm