young americans

davidbowieyoungamericans

When Bowie sang about American youth in 1975, he probably didn’t realize that their carefree ignorance extended to their sense of smell. According to a recent study by a Dutch researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Radboud University, olfactory knowledge varies significantly from culture to culture and generation to generation. Read this lovely New York Times article by TM Luhrmann. For some of the team’s publications check out Prof. Majid’s site and Prof. Levinson’s site.

Of the global study groups, Americans had great difficulty identifying common smells like cinnamon or turpentine. Younger people across the globe also had a more limited smell vocabulary than their elder compatriots. The good news is that training your nose is possible. Memory games can help individuals build their personal scent database. Simply smelling more things and paying attention to odors in general will help. Get ideas here on OlfactiveInstitute.com.

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we smell a lot

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The internet is abuzz with news from a recent study at Rockefeller University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute claiming a breakthrough in our understanding of human olfaction. Despite long-held beliefs that human ability to smell is poor by comparison to our sense of sight and the olfactory ability of other mammals, Dr. Andreas Keller and his team now have compelling evidence that we can smell a great deal if we pay attention, up to the trillions of distinct odors. Time to start training our brains to work harder on all that enters our mouth and nostrils!

For more information on similar work defending the human sense of smell and taste, check out John Prescott’s Taste Matters, Gordon Shepherd’s Neurogastronomy, and Hervé This’ Molecular Gastronomy.