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Do you have a good sense of smell and are also good at navigation? A series of studies by Canadian researchers found that they are linked - and that these abilities are located in overlapping brain areas - the orbitofrontal cortex and hippocampus. The Canadian researchers found that both the cortical thickness of the left orbitofrontal cortex and the right hippocampus were bigger in the better smellers and better navigators (the subjects had MRI scans).

The researchers say the findings support the view that olfaction (the sense of smell) evolved to aid navigation - this hypothesis is called the olfactory spatial hypothesis. For example, all animals use chemical cues to navigate, to find food, to avoid being preyed upon, while in contrast vision and hearing are not present in all animals. In humans, good navigators have what the researchers call "spatial memory". From Laura Sanders at Science News:

People who have a good sense of smell are also good navigators ...continue reading "Are You Both A Good Navigator And Have A Good Sense of Smell?"

The following is a study with weird results, really weird results. And it makes me think of all the times I've heard people joke: "just smelling food makes me gain weight", because we all knew it wasn't true. But what if it was true? .... The results of this study done in mice are that actually smelling the food one eats results in weight gain, and not being able to smell the food results in weight loss - even if both groups eat the same amount of food. And the "supersmellers" (those with a "boosted" sense of smell) gained the most weight of all.

What? How could that be? Yes, the study was done in mice, but perhaps it also applies to humans (the researchers think so). The researchers think  that the odor of what we eat may play an important role in how the body deals with calories - if you can't smell your food, you may burn it rather than store it. In other words, a link between smell and metabolism. Excerpts from Science Daily:

Smelling your food makes you fat

Our sense of smell is key to the enjoyment of food, so it may be no surprise that in experiments at the University of California, Berkeley, obese mice who lost their sense of smell also lost weight. What's weird, however, is that these slimmed-down but smell-deficient mice ate the same amount of fatty food as mice that retained their sense of smell and ballooned to twice their normal weight. In addition, mice with a boosted sense of smell—super-smellers—got even fatter on a high-fat diet than did mice with normal smell.  ...continue reading "Lose Weight If You Can’t Smell Your Food?"