A role for smells in a digitized world

What role can smells play in an increasingly digitized world, when smells may never be fully digitized the same way pictures or sounds may be digitized? Smells always alarmed us of danger, and the digital world is not without peril either. Artist Leanne Wijnsma and NOSE member art and scent historian ...
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Disgusting smells decrease sexual arousal

Dutch summary follows English English summary: In a very recent study by Charmaine Borg, NOSE member Sanne Boesveldt and others, the relationship between disgusting smells and sexual arousal was investigated. Can disgusting smells mitigate sexual arousal in men? And could this be used in preventive measures such as bracelets that give ...
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Jasper de Groot was interviewed for the Dutch psychology magazine ‘De Psycholoog’

Nose member Jasper de Groot received a NWO VENI grant recently, we have shared the details about this before. The Dutch psychology magazine De Psycholoog interviewed Jasper about his plans, but also about our sense of smell more generally. You can download and read the interview here (PDF, in Dutch): De Psycholoog ...
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February 27th: Anosmia Awareness Day!

Most of us take our sense of smell for granted. But have you ever thought about what it would be like to not be able to smell something? The complete loss of smell is called anosmia, and a (strongly) decreased sense of smell is called hyposmia. Without your sense of smell, food tastes different, ...
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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