When it comes to naming colors, most people do so with ease. But, for odors, it's much harder to find the words. One notable exception to this rule is found among the Jahai people, hunter-gatherers living in the Malay Peninsula. For them, odors are just as easy to name as colors. Now a new study reported in Current Biology suggests that the Jahai's special way with smell is related to their hunting and gathering lifestyle.
In a feat of nanoengineering, scientists have developed a new technique to map electrical circuits in the brain far more comprehensively than ever before. Scientists worldwide could use the technique to uncover the architecture of different parts of the brain.
Until now, many scientists believed that a single protein -- TRPM5 -- acted as a gatekeeper for tasting sweet, bitter and savory foods. Remove TRPM5 from a person's taste cells, and they would no longer be able to identify sweet, bitter or savory (also called umami) foods. A new study challenges this thinking.
The scent of a romantic partner can help lower stress levels, new psychology research from the University of British Columbia has found. Women feel calmer after being exposed to their male partner's scent, but being exposed to a stranger's scent had the opposite effect and raised levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Research from the Monell Center documented wide individual differences to the taste of the life-saving HIV medication Kaletra and identified genetic sources of the taste variation. The findings suggest that the growing field of pharmacogenetics should assess the sensory response to medicines to promote medication compliance and treatment success.
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology and the Monell Chemical Senses Center in the US have found a key protein (Skn-1a) acts as a master regulator for the generation of chemosensory cells in mice. As these cells are known to detect bitter or toxic substances, the study provides insights into the body's innate defense mechanisms and could lead to the development of new drugs in future.
Breathe in through your nose, and chances are you will feel the air coming in and also smell something nearby. Researchers led by Takeshi Imai at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology have discovered how these sensations are kept separate and why sniffing can help identify odors, two problems that have puzzled scientists for years. Published in Neuron on Dec. 6, the study used a system in mice that systematically controls airflow and odor delivery.
Researchers at Tufts are examining the behavior of stem cells within the context of aging and loss of smell. In Cell Stem Cell, they report mechanisms to regenerate adult stem cells in mice to restore smell cells: it mimics induced pluripotency, but is simpler, involving only two Yamanaka factors.
Autism typically involves the inability to read social cues. We most often associate this with visual difficulty in interpreting facial expression, but new research at the Weizmann Institute of Science suggests that the sense of smell may also play a central role in autism.
Cataglyphis fortis desert ants can learn visual or olfactory cues to pinpoint their nest, but only if these cues are unique to specify the nest entrance. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, discovered that the insects ignore visual landmarks or odors as nest-defining cues, if these occur not only near the nest but also along the route. Hence, ants are able to evaluate the informative value of such cues.