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Poor human olfaction is a 19th-century myth

Science (New York, N.Y.) | 13 May 2017

JP McGann
Abstract
It is commonly believed that humans have a poor sense of smell compared to other mammalian species. However, this idea derives not from empirical studies of human olfaction but from a famous 19th-century anatomist’s hypothesis that the evolution of human free will required a reduction in the proportional size of the brain’s olfactory bulb. The human olfactory bulb is actually quite large in absolute terms and contains a similar number of neurons to that of other mammals. Moreover, humans have excellent olfactory abilities. We can detect and discriminate an extraordinary range of odors, we are more sensitive than rodents and dogs for some odors, we are capable of tracking odor trails, and our behavioral and affective states are influenced by our sense of smell.
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Concepts
Hippocampus, Electronic nose, Olfactory fatigue, Mammal, Brain, Odor, Primate, Olfaction
MeSH headings
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