Smell – 5 Little Known Snippets


Smell may be our most evocative sense.  Studies have shown that people can recall a scent with 65% accuracy after one year; visual memory sinks to 50% after just a few months.  And because smells are processed by the same part of the brain that handles memories and emotions, (the temporal lobe) we respond to them with rare intensity.  Decades later, a passing sent may summon a memory of our first-grade classroom, one so vivid that we seem transported across time and space.

Though not on a par with our canine friends’, the human nose is still something of a marvel.  An ordinary person can pick up a whiff of Smell - 5 Little Known Snippetsskunk when the amount of scent in the air is less than one ten-trillionth of an ounce.  The nose can also determine where a smell is coming from, pointing you (for better or worse) toward the source.  Still, our sense of smell is deeply individual:  Some people can’t smell mushrooms; others can’t sniff out freesia.  These differences are mostly genetic, but simpler things- small physiological changes and factors like mood and medication (antibiotics, statins, and blood pressure drugs can all affect our sense of smell) – enhance or diminish our ability to detect odors.  In fact, it’s believed that we never experience a smell the same way twice, since the sensitivity of our nose changes from hour to hour and day to day.


Smell – 5 Little Known Snippets


  1. In general your sense of smell is weakest in the morning and grows stronger as the day goes on.
  2. Smells can affect your behavior.  A recent study showed that people sitting in a citrus-scented room cooperated more in trust experiments and even offered to make more charitable donations.  (Salvation Army bell ringers, take note: You may want to swing a bag of lemons instead!)
  3. Your sense of smell becomes more acute when you’re hungry.
  4. The ability to detect scents is boosted by estrogen, which is why women (and especially pregnant women) tend to have more sensitive noses than men.
  5. Astronauts in space often lose their senses of smell and taste.  Because of the lack of gravity, their sinuses fill up with fluid, causing stuffiness like from a cold.


This will conclude our 5 part series on the senses.  We will be putting out a Top 10 List on “ways to sharpen your senses” down the road.  We hoped you’ve enjoyed our look at Sight, Hearing, Taste, Touch & Smell.  Let us know what you think in the comments below.



Lynne is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Therapeutic Massage and Ethics Educator with extensive study in preventative nutrition and physiology. For over 35 years, Lynne has helped thousands of people through consulting, seminars and writing.

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