News:

Smelling without an olfactory bulb?

Smell is possibly the most enigmatic sense. We only recently became aware that our social communications and interactions are influenced by our sense of smell, training may improve the ability to smell again in people suffering from anosmia, and smell scientists across the globe are working hard to fully understand ...
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Reuktraining App

De stichting Reuksmaakstoornis is er voor mensen die verminderd kunnen ruiken, bijvoorbeeld omdat ze een ongeluk hebben gehad, een langdurige luchtweginfectie hebben, maar ook wanneer er geen aanwijsbare oorzaak is. Het verlies van je vermogen om te ruiken heeft veel impact, op persoonlijk en sociaal vlak. Onderzoek van onder andere prof ...
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The smell of fear: it’s dose dependent

Jasper de Groot published an article on the chemical communication of fear in the high impact journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. His study shows that humans can express the quantity of their experienced fear in their body odor. That is, the more fearful a person was (induced by ...
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Boekreview: De Taal van Smaak

In “De taal van smaak” integreert Reinier Spreen op ogenschijnlijk speelse wijze wetenschappelijke inzichten over geur en smaak met alledaagse situaties waarin we betekenis proberen te geven aan wat we ruiken en proeven door middel van taal. Het boek bestaat uit drie delen: In het eerste deel maakt de auteur ...
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Smelling the smell of freshly cut grass (hexanal) increases interpersonal trust

Together with his Master's student Daan van Nieuwenburg and professor Monique Smeets, Jasper de Groot published an article showing the subtle signaling potential of smell in the open access journal Frontiers in Psychology. The two experiments reported in this paper bring new evidence that interpersonal trust can be enhanced by ...
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Podcast on the history of olfactory art

Listen to the podcast ‘Kunsthoop’ with an interview with scent historian Caro Verbeek on olfactory art history and let it transport you to the smells and their (very different) meaning at the beginning of the 20th century (in Dutch): ...
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The language of wine: consistent prose or intentional gibberish?

Nederlands volgt na het Engels Language in wine reviews: consistent prose or intentional gibberish? Full. Round. Elegant. Forward. These are the sorts of words frequently used to describe wine. Some readers will immediately understand what the reviewer means; for others, such descriptions sound like gibberish. Olfactory researcher Ilja Croijmans (affiliated ...
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An interview with Dora Goldsmith on recreating Cleopatra’s perfume

An in depth interview by scent historian Caro Verbeek with Egyptologist Dora Goldsmith on the reconstruction of Cleopatra’s perfume; one of the most enigmatic scents of the antique world I already had Cleopatra’s nose (at least that’s what I am often told), and now thanks to Dora Goldsmith I smelled ...
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Highlights from the inaugural NOSE scientific meeting

 

Despite the long and illustrious history of olfaction research in the Netherlands (e.g., Hendrik
Zwaardemaker from Utrecht University invented the olfactometer in 1888), there has never been a
dedicated national platform for olfactory researchers and allied parties to meet and exchange the
latest research perspectives. On November 15th the inaugural NOSE scientific meeting was held at
Utrecht University. The meeting included speakers from a range of disciplines (from medicine to art
history), and highlighted the breadth of olfactory research present today in the Netherlands. We
present some highlights of the events for those budding odour enthusiasts who were unable to
attend, and for those enthusiastic attendees who would like to relive the day.

Sanne Boesveldt (Wageningen University) discussed how olfactory cues can affect appetite and
eating behaviour, raising questions about when odours can be effective cues for food, and whether
they could be manipulated to increase healthy food behaviour. Peter de Jong (University of
Groningen) introduced how odour can be used in psychopathology and explained how disgust odours
can affect sexual behaviour. Garmt Dijksterhuis (Wageningen University) strongly argued olfactory
transmission is an unlikely possibility, highlighting differences between olfaction and vision and
sound. Andrea Evers (Leiden University) raised the question of whether odours can be useful in
placebo research and provided evidence that odours can condition physiological responses. Rob
Holland (Radboud University) again highlighted the relationship between disgust and odour, showing
that disgusting pictures can lower olfactory threshold, implying we become more attuned to odour
when we’re in a state of disgust. Asifa Majid (Radboud University) added a cross-cultural perspective,
showing that although vision language dominates across languages, in some cultures elaborate odour
lexicons exist. With an interactive odour presentation, Caro Verbeek (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
explored historical smells and taught us how to “look at art with an olfactory gaze”. Wilbert Boek
(Hospital Gelderse Vallei) discussed odour from the perspective of an ENT doctor, and emphasised
the effect anosmia can have on one’s daily life, and how the medical profession should be more
aware of its importance. The meeting ended with Monique Smeets (Utrecht University), describing
her work on the role of odour in social signalling, for example, the odour of fearful sweat can lead to
fear expressions, and the odour of happy sweat can lead to happy expressions.
After this fascinating first meeting, we look forward to hearing from new members, and to further
olfactory events in the near future.

Laura Speed