The Importance Of Olfaction

1243 Words 5 Pages
From an evolutionary standpoint, olfaction is one of the oldest senses. Aiding in our memory and also in the detection of hazards, the sense of smell became a necessity in the human struggle for survival. From the creation of synthetic fragrances to even the enhancing of our sense of taste, olfaction has even affected our culture. Our sense of smell has helped establish the human race into what it is today, but could it also be affecting us on a subconscious level?

First we must understand how human olfaction is made possible. Our sense of smell is part of our chemosensory system; senses in our body that rely on chemical molecules. Air (a mixture of molecules) enters the nose through the nostrils and is filtered before coming in contact
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These chemicals, as other odors, travel through the olfactory tract and to the brain; but don’t trigger the exact same responses as other scents. Pheromones play a very important role in mammals; for most species, it is the defining measure in mating and even in their sociological order. It has been proven that pheromones do supply that invisible push, or drive that signal when and with whom to mate. In the year 1980, Dr. George T. Taylor conducted a study, in which he exposed male rats to the pheromones of female rats. This study was to show whether the presence of pheromones would change the behavioral patterns of rats. Once exposed, the male rats became extremely aggressive towards one another; this proving that pheromones do have an effect on the behavioral patterns of …show more content…
Newborn mammals such as gerbils, mice and others born into grouped societies, are able to differentiate between the smell of their mother’s milk and another female’s. A study done by Dr. Sara Gerling in 1982 was to prove this point. Dr. Sara did a study in which she removed the scent glands of pregnant, lactating gerbils. Once the gerbils had delivered there young, the pups eating habits were monitored. Her results showed that even though the mother’s scent glands had been removed, the pups were still feeding from their mother’s. Further observation revealed that the pups were repelled from the milk of other females who had their scent glands in tact and fed from only the milk of females who did not have scent glands. Showing that pheromones can also have a repelling effect on mammals. Additional studies have not been done to prove whether human babies develop these same chemical attachments to their mothers, but traces of its truth do exist. For example, olfactory studies do show that newborn babies recognize and are even soothed by the smell of their mother’s amniotic fluid. “In fact, hours after birth, babies prefer breasts that have been dabbed with amniotic fluid” (Varendi et al 1996). Another study was conducted in which ten mothers and their six-week old babies were gathered, and

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