Can't put your nose on it?

several pictures of the noses of different people


If you think you have a poor sense of smell, you’re probably wrong. We don’t actively think about our ability to smell, mainly because it’s so deeply ingrained in our subconscious, but our smelling ability really affects how we feel and experience what is happening around us. Smell plays a massive role in our memory, emotions, mood, taste and how we forge relationships with other people. 

The sense of smell is especially connected with memory, even more so than any of our senses. Why is that? Well, our olfactory nerves are linked to the part of our brains holding all memories and emotions (the hippocampus and amygdala), which is also the most primitive part of the brain. So as smells reach this part of our brain first and the cortex (the rational part) last, smells can give you fast and strong emotional reactions, so by the time you can stop and think about the smell you are perceiving, it has already triggered emotional responses on you and you can't do anything about it. 


white hologram of the human brain


The sense of smell is also incredibly important for our ability to taste the food, drinks, people (whatever you are into tasting). Without a sense of smell, you can’t differentiate specific flavors. If you’re lucky, you might be able to distinguish between salty, sweet, sour, and bitter, but not so much the flavor. Imagine eating ice cream and knowing it’s sweet with a creamy consistency, but not being able to know which flavor you chose. 

The smell also plays a large role in how we perceive other people and build friendships and relationships. In Germany there is saying "Ich kann ihn nicht riechen," which literally translates to “I can't smell that person.” It has nothing to do with anosmia (lack of smell), but rather with the fact that you can't stand this person.

We are all unique in how we perceive and are affected by smell. The smell of gasoline and sweat could trigger someone’s gag reflex while being another’s perfume of preference. These preferences are related to memories and associations in our brain that we might not even recall or be aware of, but they affect our everyday behavior on a daily basis. at LIT LAB we believe in exploring and stimulating this sense because it holds so many connections in our brains that we haven’t yet put our nose on.


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