The 2021 NOSE symposium

Unconscious Patient (Allegory of Smell) by Rembrandt van Rijn (Leiden 1606 – 1669 Amsterdam). From The Leiden Collection Catalogue, 3rd ed. Edited by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. and Lara Yeager-Crasselt. New York, 2020–. (accessed January 31, 2021). From Aroma to Anosmia Although the human sense of smell has been ...
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The Smells of Winter

Some observations by Ilja Croijmans: Winter holidays are all about smells. Think of the smell of incense during a church mass. Think of the presents that the three wise men allegedly brought to baby Jesus. The smell of the many candles and fires that we light during our dark winter ...
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All I Want for Christmas is Myrrh

The Meaning behind the Fragrant Gifts to Christ, By Caro Verbeek, scent historian When we see a painting of three lavishly dressed men holding chalices in front of a new-born child sitting on the lap of his mother, we are bound to recognise the so called ‘Nativity scene’ which tells ...
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Diving into Nose Dive(s)

This year of anosmia and urban scent transitions due to Covid-19, saw the appearance of a remarkable number of books on scent. And not one, but two of them carry the enticing title “Nose Dive”. One is written by the widely acclaimed culinary expert Harold McGee, and the other by ...
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Odeuropa is the first pan-European project to uncover and present the heritage smells of the continent. It will use data mining strategies such as image recognition and computational linguistics to find out more about lost scents. NOSE-network is proud to be collaborating in this three year project and will be ...
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Caro Verbeek’s PhD project “In Search of Lost Scents” – A summary

NOSE-member Caro Verbeek succesfully defended her PhD project 'In Search of Lost Scents' on the 27th of October. Not only did she fill in an art historical gap by re-establishing the importance of the role of smell in avant-garde art (especially futurism) she also broadened the available methods for scholars: ...
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20 years of, the Dutch patient association for smell and taste disorders, was founded 20 years ago! On October 3rd, this was celebrated during the annual 'Vriendendag'. Kirsten Jaarsma, chairperson of, reports on this day: Our association was founded 20 years ago in October 2000 by a small group of people ...
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Release your inner cave man: do you choose the same foods as your ancestors?

In spring of 2018, a team of Wageningen University applied to the call of the Lowlands music festival (together with New Scientist), to include science and perform a study during the festival. The ‘Oermens’ team was formed, and was selected to attend the festival in summer and collect data to ...
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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