Amazing Facts about Smell

Humans have truly amazing abilities and our sense of smell is certainly one of them. Being able to smell is definitely something that many of us take for granted, but have you ever stopped to think about it?

There are loads of fascinating facts about our sense of smell and today we’re going to be looking at 8 of them, including being able to smell other people’s emotions and who has a better sense of smell out of men and women.

We can actually smell fear

We’ve all heard the expression, but it is true that we can pick up on the smell of fear - and other emotions, too. This is because there are smell signals within sweat and they can help us to empathise with people who are experiencing certain emotions. Fear, happiness, and disgust are just some of the emotions that we can detect in people simply through smell.

Women have a better sense of smell

The orbital prefrontal region of a woman’s brain is more developed than that of a man. In plain English, that means women generally have a better sense of smell than men do and they can pick up on a wider range of scents.  

We can’t smell when we sleep

When you’re catching your Zs, you won’t smell a thing. Our sense of smell completely shuts off when we’re asleep. This is the only time we can ‘turn off’ our sense of smell, unless we get anosmia (the loss of the sense of smell).

Our sense of smell changes throughout the day

As well as being completely shut off when we’re asleep, our sense of smell varies throughout the day. It’s strongest in the evening and at its weakest when you first wake up.

Bad scents can damage your sense of smell

If you’re exposed to foul scents for long periods of time, it can actually damage your sense of smell.

Smells bring back memories

We’ve talked about this before in our blog post about The Psychology of Smell, but it really is amazing. Your sense of smell is linked to your memory, which is why certain smells can trigger memories and a sense of nostalgia. Located in your nose and across the bottom of your brain is the olfactory bulb. This is what links smell and emotion.

Unborn babies have a sense of smell

Smell is the first sense to develop, so babies actually have a fully developed sense of smell when they’re still in the womb. On a similar note, young children up to the age of 4 don’t find bad smells disgusting, only interesting.

Smell is seasonal

Our sense of smell is better in the spring and the summer. This is because there’s more moisture in the air, so we’re better able to identify smells. Another contributing factor to this could also be that people go out to exercise more often during the warmer months, and exercise can also heighten your sense of smell.

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