Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagSmell (sense of smell)

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Joyful little girl smelling self made croissants with mom

The Nose Really Does Know, It Turns Out…

But we usually don’t notice. Our sense of smell may have declined in recent millennia but it is sharper than we think

Anthropologist Sarah Ives reflects on the experiences of people whose sense of smell fell victim to COVID-19: Melissa, a New York–based podcaster, realized how crucial scent is for safety when she lost her sense of smell. “I kept burning stuff on the stove,” she says. “I’ve sent rotten turkey to school with my kid. I have thought, What if I end up dying because I can’t smell something dangerous, like knowing whether you are going to burn the house down? I’ve literally almost done it three times. There are flames, and I’m just sitting in the other room.” Sarah Ives, “What the Anthropology of Smell Reveals About Humanity” at Sapiens (June 30, 2022) Anosmia, the loss of a sense of…

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Sick woman trying to sense smell of fresh tangerine orange, has symptoms of Covid-19, corona virus infection - loss of smell and taste, standing at home. One of the main signs of the disease.

Has the Human Sense of Smell Declined in Recent Millennia?

Researchers found that people with “ancestral” genes perceived various odors as more intense

Recently, a group of researchers embarked on an unusual experiment. They screened the genomes of 1,000 Han Chinese people to find genetic variations that were linked to the way participants perceived 10 different scents, including musk and underarm odor. They then repeated the experiment for six odors in an ethnically diverse group of of 364 people to check their results. They reported that people who had “ancestral” versions of the scent recognition genes perceived the odors as more intense: Participants carried different versions of the musk and underarm odor receptor genes, and those genetic variations affected how the person perceived the scents. In combination with previously published results, the researchers find that people with the ancestral versions (the version shared…