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According to Avery Gilbert, author of What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life, “a pheromone is a molecule released by one organism that triggers an automatic, reflex-like behavior in another member of the species. Insects are the original and still best example. Dip a swizzle stick in sex pheromone and a male cockroach will try to mate with it. Pheromones are found in mammals like pigs, hamsters and horses. The evidence is a lot shakier when you look at primates and not very convincing when it comes to humans.”
“That said, humans’ body odours carry all sorts of information, including sex, age, sexual maturity, emotional state and various cues about health. We all broadcast this information and we also respond to it, although we are not always aware of doing so. I think body odor is involved in sexual attraction, mother-infant bonding and much else we do, like how we react to our boss or what we think of the person next to us on the subway.”
So is it or isn’t it? Avery Gilbert suggests that the definition of what a pheremone is has broadened beyond the point of credible, or (read) scientific use, but leaves the jury dangling.
Curious to make up your own mind? Try out a Pheremone Party in a neighbourhood near you. http://www.pheromoneparties.com/. Just bring along a worn t-shirt and a jiffy bag and the night could be yours…
This comes from an excerpt interview with Scientist Gilbert and International Business Times – http://www.ibtimes.com/pulse/what-are-pheromones-will-they-get-you-date-valentines-day-1816602
In a first-of-its-kind study, a research team led by Simone Ritter of the Radboud University Behavioral Science Institute in the Netherlands reports the beneficial effect of sleep on creativity can be enhanced by an evocative scent. It is published in the December issue of the always-stimulating Journal of Sleep Research.
Ritter and her colleagues, including Maarten Bos of Harvard Business School, describe a study featuring 49 participants between the ages of 18 and 29. All arrived at a laboratory in the evening and watched a 10-minute video about volunteer work.
They were then sent to bed as they pondered the problem: How can people be motivated to volunteer more of their time? They were expected to provide some innovative answers first thing in the morning.
For two-thirds of the participants, “a hidden scent diffuser spread an orange-vanilla odor while participants watched the movie and were informed about the creativity task,” the researchers write. Before going to bed, they were given an envelope containing a second scent diffuser, which they were instructed to open before falling asleep.
Half of them were exposed to the same orange-vanilla scent that was in the air when they watched the video. The others were exposed to a different odor. The remaining participants (one-third of the total group) were exposed to no scent, either while sleeping or awake.
The following morning, everyone was given two minutes to list the creative solutions they had come up with. Afterwards, they selected what they felt was their most innovative idea—a task that was included since recognizing good ideas is a key component of creativity.
Two trained raters scored all the ideas on a creativity scale, giving high marks to concepts that were both novel and useful. They found the ideas of those who slept with the orange-vanilla odor were far more innovative than those who had slept with a different scent, or no odor at all.
In addition, those in the orange-vanilla group were much more likely to agree with the raters as to which of their ideas was the most genuinely creative. They were both more innovative and more perceptive regarding which of their innovations was the most promising.
In a list of the best smelling things in life, fresh rain has got to be somewhere near the top—maybe above newborn babies and below chocolate chip cookies? Rain smells so good that there’s even a name for its signature odour: petrichor. Now, using high-speed cameras, scientists have captured a strange effect that could explain why rain smells so wonderful. In the video above you can see little particles popping up off the surface of the droplets, and The Washington Post reports that scientists suspect that it’s these aerosols that are responsible for the aroma.
Odour pleasantness and facial attractiveness integrate into one joint emotional evaluation,” said lead author Janina Seubert, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist involved in this work.
The current study design centered on the principle that judging attractiveness and age involve two distinct perceptual processing methods: attractiveness is regarded as an emotional process while judgments of age are believed to be cognitive, or rationally-based.
While evaluating the images, one of five odours was simultaneously released. These were a blend of fish oil (unpleasant) and rose oil (pleasant) that ranged from predominantly fish oil to predominantly rose oil. The subjects were asked to rate the age of the face in the photograph, the attractiveness of the face and the pleasantness of the odour. Across the range of odours, odour pleasantness directly influenced ratings of facial attractiveness. This suggests that olfactory and visual cues independently influence judgments of facial attractiveness. Jean-Marc Dessirier, Lead Scientist at Unilever and a co-author on the study said, “These findings have fascinating implications in terms of how pleasant smells may help enhance natural appearance within social settings. http://www.monell.org/news/news_releases/pleasant_smells_increase_facial_attractiveness Download the paper here >> http://www.monell.org/images/uploads/Seubert_PR_final.pdf More related media coverage:
What we know is that smell is the oldest sense, having its origins in the rudimentary senses for chemicals in air and water – senses that even bacteria have. Before sight or hearing, before even touch, creatures evolved to respond to chemicals around them.
Sight relies on four kinds of light sensors in the human eye, cells known as receptors, which convert light into the electrochemical language of our brain, and touch relies on different receptor types for pressure (at least four of these), for heat, for cold and for pain, but this pales into comparison for what is required for detecting smell. There are at least 1,000 different smell receptor types, which regenerate throughout your lifetime, and change according to what you are used to smelling. The result of this complexity is that we are able discriminate many, many different kinds of smells.
We do not, however, have names for all the smells we can differentiate. Smell is perhaps the sense we are least used to talking about. We are good at describing how things look, or telling how things sounded, but with smells we are reduced to labelling them according to things they are associated with (“smells like summer meadows” or “smells like wet dog”, for instance). An example of this “hard-to-talk-about-ness” is that while we have names for colours which mean nothing but the colour, such as “red”, we generally only have names for smells which mean the thing that produces that smell, such as “cedar”, “coconut” or “fresh bread”.
The part of the brain that is responsible for processing smells – the “olfactory bulb” – is next to a part of the brain called the hippocampus. This name means “seahorse”, and the hippocampus is so-called because it is curled up like a seahorse, nested deep within the brain, a convergence point for information arriving from all over the rest of the cortex. Neuroscientists have identified the hippocampus as crucial for creating new memories for events. People with damage to the hippocampus have trouble remembering what has happened to them.
Smell is unique among the senses in that it enters directly deep into the brain. If we look at the major pathways traveled by the other senses, such as hearing and vision, they start at the sense organs – that is, the eyes or the ears – and move to a relay station called the thalamus, before passing on to the rest of the brain.
With smell the situation is different. Rather than visiting the thalamic relay station on its journey into the brain, smell information travels directly to the major site of processing – the olfactory bulb – with nothing in between. We do not know what stopping off at the thalamus does for the other senses, but it certainly means that signals generated in the other senses are somehow “further away” from the nexus of processing done in the brain.
Could this be part of the reason why smells are both hard to put into words, but also able to trigger deeply hidden memories? Memory research has shown that describing things in words can aid memory, but it also reduces the emotion we feel about the subject. When we come up with a story about our memories, we start remembering the story as much as the raw experience.
According to Viora, the nose delivers 75 percent of a drinker’s taste experience of coffee and even more of the taste experience of tea. With the new lid, the actual drink opening sits beneath the nose, while the recessed well leaves some of the drink outside of the cup to release even more aroma. The lid even improves retronasal smelling, which occurs when aroma travels through the pharynx in the back of the mouth to the olfactory membrane. When drinkers purse their lips to suck through the small opening of a conventional lid, it closes the soft pallet and blocks the pharynx. With the Viora Lid, lips stay relaxed, and this problem is removed.
Human Nose Can Detect a Trillion Smells, according to a new study. Researchers had previously estimated that humans could sense only about 10,000 odours but the number had never been explicitly tested before.
“People have been talked into this idea that humans are bad at detecting smells,” says neurobiologist Leslie Vosshall of Rockefeller University in New York City
Humans detect smells by inhaling air that contains odour molecules, which then bind to receptors inside the nose, relaying messages to the brain. Most scents are composed of many odourants; a whiff of chocolate, for example, is made up of hundreds of different odor molecules. Understanding how people process the complex information contained in scents—or memories of smells—offers a window into how the human brain functions.
Selling products is about selling emotion. How do you feel in relation to a brand? What does it evoke in you? Scent is widely considered to be our most emotional sense, due in part to our impressive capacity to recognize distinct scents: Richard Axel and Linda Buck won a Nobel Prize for their work in understanding our olfactory system, which allows us to identify and categorize 10,000 scents, all of which can trigger powerful nostalgia-laced memories. This means scent can subconsciously affect our cognition and behaviour. Studies have shown that ambient scents in a retail environment can produce positive feelings toward that brand (including your likelihood to return to the store) and affect purchasing habits. Scent marketing companies, like Scent Air, are enlisted by retailers, hotels, and restaurants to produce branded scents that build an emotional connection between consumer and brand. According to the Scent Marketing Institute, specific scents actually correlate with different consumer behaviors. For example, the scent of fresh baked goods sells more homes, the scent of leather and cedar convinces us to buy luxury furniture, and citrus encourages us to browse longer and spend more. Outsmart them: Shop on a full stomach and keep something minty in your mouth while you browse. Peppermint satiates hunger and is powerful enough to serve as a barrier to other scents that may be temptingly wafting toward you. Read more: http://www.dailyworth.com/posts/2594-6-ways-retailers-trick-you-into-spending-more/7#ixzz33aM4q2c6 This article originally appeared at DailyWorth. Copyright 2014
AROMAFORK™ is a new age molecular gastronomy gizmo telling your tastebuds to take a hike.
Montreal-based company Molecule-R has invented the AROMAFORK™ — a fork that will change the way you perceive flavours. The fork releases scents as you eat with it and “tricks your mind” to detect enhanced flavours.
Well here’s how it works: Your tastebuds recognize five tastes — sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness and umami. Your nose, on the other hand, can detect up to a trillion smells. By releasing aromas, the AROMAFORK™ gets your brain working double duty, getting it to perceive aromas on top of tastes.
A capsule of liquid aroma sits under the fork’s handle and soaks through a small piece of blotting paper to emit a whiff of fragrance with every bite gradually throughout the meal.
The fork comes with 21 different flavours, including chocolate, vanilla, passionfruit, basil and mint.
Wacky and weird, yes. But I think I could see this one actually taking off….coming to a side plate near you
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