Smelling in the Wild

With colleague Dr. Colette Berbesque (University of Roehampton), I am about to start two exciting new projects that focus on the human sense of smell in natural environments. One project will focus on how our sense of smell may be influenced by subsistence. Our project is a corollary study to work by the Sorokowskas andContinue reading “Smelling in the Wild”

The chirality of smell

As I prepare the first half of my Science of Smell online class, I am having fun looking for various examples of all things biomolecular, biochemical, and genetic related to olfaction. If I were a taste and flavour chemist or a molecular gastronomist, I’d probably be interested in somehow exploiting the chirality of biomolecules in foodContinue reading “The chirality of smell”

Inhale for health

This research is a bit old (October 2013) but recently caught my eye: Research out of Japan shows that walking in the woods also may play a role in fighting cancer. Plants emit a chemical called phytoncides that protects them from rotting and insects. When people breathe it in, there is an increase in theContinue reading “Inhale for health”

Is there a connection between dietary repetition and food preferences?

A Science News Post (brought to my attention earlier in the summer by @elizabethjrowe) presents research trends in food science: the pairing of retronasal olfaction and taste reception in studying flavour and the knowledge pairing of culinary experts and scientists within a relatively new journal Flavour. I am glad that food sensation (for lack of a betterContinue reading “Is there a connection between dietary repetition and food preferences?”

The piggy smell of Eurasian genetic landscapes

Between 6000-4000 years ago (according to study published in Nature Communications), indigenous Mesolithic hunter-gatherers acquired pigs from Neolithic farmers immigrating to Europe. I have been interested in Pleistocene pigs for a while (and their continued association with humans into the Holocene). The reason for my interest is that pigs produce a lot of androstenone (aContinue reading “The piggy smell of Eurasian genetic landscapes”

Detecting stress via feces?

Noted smell scientist Avery Gilbert blogged about a team of Japanese scientists who tested what quantitative differences are there in the odor profiles of mice experiencing different life conditions (e.g., no bedding, fasting). What they found is that the greater the stressful life conditions, the stronger the smell of the feces. Seventeen odor compounds were identified  (aldehydes, sulfides,Continue reading “Detecting stress via feces?”

The complexity of taste!

A recent blog on how the loss of sense of smell can intensify taste makes some interesting points. The two that have interested me for a while are the contribution of trigeminal nerve sensations to consumption (for lack of a better word) and the hazy area of taste (if we get into the murkier ion channelingContinue reading “The complexity of taste!”

Is food preference simply repetition?

A recent Science New Post (brought to my attention by @elizabethjrowe) presents research trends in food science: the pairing of retronasal olfaction and taste reception in studying flavour and the knowledge pairing of culinary experts and scientists within a relatively new journal Flavour. I am glad that food sensation (for lack of a better word to describe the complexContinue reading “Is food preference simply repetition?”

The evolution of the mammalian brain starts with smelling!

A study of CT scans of two early Jurassic period mammals reveals the brain evolution had three stages, the first of which was driven by olfaction. To read the original, go here. The next stage is characterized by an increase in tactile sensitivity from body hair and the third stage by skilled muscle movement using theContinue reading “The evolution of the mammalian brain starts with smelling!”

Making scents of tea olives

The tea olive Osmanthus fragrans is a wonderfully aromatic plant, particularly when its scent is captured by the evening breeze. I have been stopped in my tracks upon detecting this olfactory ambrosia in the air. What amazes me is that some people cannot smell it at all or only can detect the slightest ghost ofContinue reading “Making scents of tea olives”