If we are not exposed to certain scents during our early development we may permanently lose our ability to recognize them. In the same way, as with our other senses, we can train ourselves to smell better (e.g., perfumers have trained noses and make a living detecting just the right blend). (Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. p 63. NY: Vintage Books, 2002.)

Scents activate the olfactory nerves that go directly to the limbic system. Aromatherapy (e.g., oil of lavender used properly) can help people to feel less stressed/depressed and enhance sleep. Cinnamon may work as a natural aphrodisiac for males. (Amen, Daniel, MD. Change Your Brain Change Your Life. p 75-76. NY: Times Books, 1998.)

Human behavior is more driven by our responses to smell than we might care to admit. Our choice of sexual partner, for instance, is very much influenced by personal odors, called pheromones, that we are hardly even conscious of…The tissue in the noise contains 40 million hair genes. (Greenfield, Susan, con. Ed. Brain Power. p 64-65. MA: The Ivy Press Limited, 1999.)

It’s only one synapse away from the nose to the amygdale, a nodal point that directly routes incoming sensory information in all forms to the higher centers of association in the cortex. This explains why associations with odors are so strong and memorable. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. p 143. NY: Scribner, 1997.)

The olfactory system can distinguish million of odors by activating unique combinations of receptors in the nose. Each receptor is rather like a single note on a piano, while the perception of an odor is like striking a chord. The olfactory system is linked directly to the emotional center of the brain. (Katz, Lawrence C., PhD and Manning Rubin. Keep Your Brain Alive. p 91. NY: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 1999.)

Newborns know and prefer the scent of their own mother. (Karen, Robert, PhD. Becoming Attached. p 41-42. NY: Oxford University Press, 1994, 1998.)

Females have a better sense of smell. They have increased sensitive around the time of ovulation. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 34-38. NY: Broadway Books, 1998.)

All of the receptor cells undergo a constant cycle of birth, development and death over an average period of 10 days for taste and 30 days for olfaction (unlike the sensory receptors in vision, hearing, and touch, which are fixed. (Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. 71. NY: Vintage Books, 2002.)

Smell is a powerful trigger to memory and a key to rich associations of experience and emotion. (Williams, Linda. Teaching for the Two-Sided Mind. p 162-163. CA: Touchstone Books: 1986.)

Studies: woman can smell more acutely than can men. During pregnancy women may actually experience a diminished sense of smell. Nearly two persons in three have suffered a temporary loss of smell and 1.2% cannot smell at all. Specific anosmia is the name for odor blindness. (Gilbert, Avery N., and Charles J. Wysocki. The Smell Survey. p 514-523. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society, October 1987.)

When people access smells, they flare their nostrils. That’s a direct sensory signal. (Bandler, Richard, and John Grinder. Frogs into Princes. p 43. UT: Real People Press. 1979.)

Smell is the exception to the cross-over rule. Odors are processed on the same side as the nostril that senses them. (Carter, Rita. Mapping the Mind. p 10. CA: University of California Press, 1999.)

The limbic system, sometimes called the emotional brain because it plays a primary role in a range of emotions (including pain, pleasure, docility, affection, and anger) is involved in processing odors and memory. (Tortora, Gerard J. and Sandra Reynolds Grabowski. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. p 471-472. NY :John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003.)

Because of the way smells are processed neurologically, they have a much more direct impact on behavior and responses than other sensory inputs do. (Bandler,Richard, and John Grinder. Reframing. p 471-472. UT: Real People Press, 1982.)

Seven categories of odors include:

  • Minty
  • Floral (e.g., a rose)
  • Ethereal (e.g., a pear)
  • Musky
  • Resinous (e.g., camphor)
  • Foul or putrid (e.g., rotten eggs)
  • Acrid or pungent (e.g., vinegar)

These compare to four taste categories (sweet, sour, salty, and bitter). The remainder of the tasted sensations are actually attributable to smell. (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s. p 712. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

Olfactory receptor cells, the neurons in our nose that allow us to smell, are neurons that can regenerate throughout life. Although these cells are continually being born and dying, they maintain the same connections as their ancestors. The result is that once we learn a smell, it always smells the same to us—despite the fact that there are always new neurons smelling it! (Brain Facts.)

Smell, more than any of the other senses, provides the surest way to enhance one’s emotional memory. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. p 84-85. NY: Harmony Books, 2001.)

Females have a better sense of smell than males from birth onward. (U.S.NEWS & WORLD REPORT. p 52. August 8, 1988.)

Women have keener senses of hearing smell and taste, men have sharper eyes. (Brynie, Faith Hickman. 101 Questions Your Brain Has Asked About Itself But Couldn’t Answer, Until Now. p 115. CT: Millbrook Press, 1998.)

Females can detect fainter scents than males, and can recognize odors more accurately. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. The First Sex. p 88-89. NY: Random House, 1999.)

The vomeronasal organ (sex nose), which detects pheromones, the scent essential for mating, is the only sense with a direct link to the limbic system. Nonsexual smell organs reach the limbic system only after they’re passed through the higher centers. Thus, they are under greater control. (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. p 712-713. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

Signals from taste buds pass to the same brainstem nucleus as the chemoreceptors in the arteries (taste acidity of blood) and those in the stomach (taste sweetness of food). Then the messages pass, via the thalamus, to the primary taste area in the frontal lobe of the cortex, where they combine with smell messages coming from the food. (Greenfield, Susan, con. Ed. Brain Power. p 64-66. MA: The Ivy Press Limited, 1999.)

Every human being has his/her own personal smellprint. After spending 2 hours with her newborn, a mother can accurately select a garment worn by her baby by smell. (Ornstein, Robert, PhD, and David Sobel, MD. Health Pleasures. p 70-72. NY: Addison-Wesley, 1989.)