Let’s start with the brain. Women's sense of smell is actually more developed than a man's, this is because the women’s orbital prefrontal cortices are larger with a larger number of neurons providing women with higher olfactory sensitivity. There is a lot of different research and ideas behind why this is the case, including helping them connect with their newborns.
Our own sense of smell is unique to us, how we smell is premeditated, and it comes from the same genes which determine our body’s tissue type. We all also have ‘blind spots' when it comes to smells, there are certain things that some of us just won’t be able to pick up the scent.
Research suggests it’s not just fragrances and the food stall across the road we can smell, it’s also feelings. It’s been discovered we can also smell disgust, fear, happiness and even sexual arousal. This is from the smell signals released in our sweat.
In our late teens, around 18/19, our sense of smell heightens this is when we have our peak performance. During this period of life, the human body is subjected to profound biological changes, including odour emission and perception. After this time, the sense of smell starts to decline slowly. Also, for women, as many people may already know, during pregnancy sense of smell becomes heightened and hypersensitive, which is thought to be the reason behind the weird cravings some women experience.
The UK’s favourite overall smell is freshly baked bread, I don't think anyone will be surprised with that one, but I thought I’d add that one in here! Every animal also has its own favourite smell. Your dog’s favourite smell is you, research shows they link you with happiness making you their favourite! How adorable. Dogs' sense of smell is more developed than humans, with just a little less than 44% more scent cells than us.
We remember smells for much longer than any other sense. Incredibly, we can remember smells with a 65% accuracy after one year, whilst visual recall is only 50/50 after a quarter of the time.
In the womb, the sense of smell is the first we develop, so even when we were not born yet, we were still enjoying the fully-formed and functioning smell. However, when we are in a deep sleep, we shut down all senses so we don't have a sense of smell when we’re in deep sleep.
Our sense of smell impacts our taste, responsible for up to 95% of the flavour. Without smell, it would be impossible to know what you were eating without seeing it. You wouldn't even be able to tell the difference between an onion and a potato. Which some of us may have experienced in recent years.
There is a condition that causes people only to smell bad scents. It’s called cacosmia, even the nicest scents will be perceived as awful smells, such as vomit or a bin juice. Anosmia is a condition when you don’t have a sense of smell, you literally can’t identify anything by smell.
Perfumers have to go through a lot of tests to reach the top of their field. To reach the pinnacle of the perfume profession, perfumers must successfully identify at least 250 different scents as part of their induction test.