Secrets of Smell: Different Nose Parts for Stinky, Sweet
Hot spots aid brain, "exciting, disturbing" study hints.
The evidence was gathered by sticking electronic probes up people's noses and measuring the chatter of nasal neurons as subjects were exposed to scents.
(Related: "Scent Secrets Unlocked, Artificial Noses Ahead?")
The findings imply that the pleasantness of a smell is hardwired within our heads, calling into question the impact of life experience on how people perceive smells.
"It's both exciting and disturbing," said Don Wilson of the New York University School of Medicine, a neurobiologist who was not involved in the work.
"It doesn't fit in with what I think or a lot of other researchers think about smell."
Instead of the brain processing all scent information, for instance, it seems nasal neurons preprocess some of it—almost as if the nose has