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Humans' Sense Of Smell Is Just As Good As Dogs', Neuroscientist Claims

Move over, Rover - at least when it comes to sniffing out, well, pretty much anything.

A new report from a neuroscientist at Rutgers University claims our sense of smell is just as good as that of our canine companions. In fact, humans can smell 100 million more scents than previously thought, said Dr. John McGann.

McGann’s research led him to conclude that humans are capable of discriminating about a trillion (yes, a trillion) different scents – a far cry from the 10,000 different odors that “folk wisdom and poorly sourced introductory psychology textbooks” claim.

“We can detect and discriminate an extraordinary range of odors; we are more sensitive than rodents and dogs for some odors; we are capable of tracking odor trails; and our behavioral and affective states are influenced by our sense of smell,” McGann wrote in his paper, published in Science.

The misconception is said to date back to the 19th century, when brain surgeon/anthropologist Paul Broca made the claim that humans’ relatively small olfactory region meant they didn’t need to rely on their sense of smell (like dogs) to survive.

The issue with this misconception, said McGann, is that humans' sense of smell of a lot more crucial than has long been believed, in that it influences a range of our behaviours. 

In other words, don't feel guilty for stopping to smell the roses every now and again - after all, it's in our nature. 

h/t Travel + Leisure 


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