Study: Training can Improve your Sense of Smell

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Nov 25, 2011

Study training can improve your sense of smell

Sense of smell can be improved by training, suggest a new study published in Nature Neuroscience.

The study was conducted at New York University wherein, the lab rats were train to become familiar with different smell combinations and distinguish between them. Rats were taught to distinguish between smell by repeated exposure and reward for every right respond.

Donald Wilson, main researcher of the study said that findings of this study can prove fruitful for the scientific understanding of link between sense of smell and the disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

He further stated that sense of smell is unique among different people. The olfactory (sense of smell) bulb, is placed beneath the frontal cortex. It has direct connection with the brain and is responsible to receive nerve impulses from nose. 

For the study, thirsty rats were placed in a box with a small hole in its each size. They were exposed to slight odours from the middle hole. Three different smells were used in this experiment:

  • Mixed smell of 10 chemicals. This included smell from oils, fruits as well as cleaning agents.
  • The same mixture with only one chemical replaced by another.
  • The same mixture without one chemical.

When the study participants identified the odour they were rewarded with a sip of water through the hole present on the left side of the box. The reward for the other correct identification was given from the right side.

Rats easily identified the odours when the chemicals were replaced by the other but when one component was completely removed they were not able to differentiate. 

Researchers anaesthetised the rats and then inserted electrodes into their brains. It was found that odours that rats could identify produced a distinct pattern of electrical activity in brain.
Findings of the study reflect that olfactory impairment may reflect damage in sensory system. And if the olfactory sense is not used regularly then the gradually loses its ability.


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