What Your Nose Knows


We all know that our sense of smell is important. It’s how we discriminate between food smells and be able to tell if something smells good or bad. But what exactly is happening when you smell something? We don’t have a lot of scientific research on this subject yet, but we do have some ideas about what happens at a molecular level inside your nose:

Smells can be both very pleasant and very disturbing.

Smells can be both pleasant and unpleasant. They can be good or bad, depending on the context.

Pleasant smells are positive and uplifting, while unpleasant ones evoke negative emotions such as disgust, sadness or anxiety. For example:

  • The smell of flowers is usually pleasant for most people (unless you have allergies to them).
  • The smell of rotten food can be unpleasant or even revolting for many people (but not all!).

In addition to being able to determine whether a smell is good or bad for us personally, we can also tell if it’s good/bad for others based on their reaction to it!

People in the United States do not share an explicit vocabulary for describing smells. Some of that comes from our culture.

It’s not just a matter of vocabulary, though. The way we smell things is also culturally specific. In other parts of the world, smells are more important and integrated into daily life in ways that they aren’t here in America. For example, if you travel to China or Japan and visit a restaurant or food market there (or if you’ve ever been to one yourself), you’ll notice that aromas are everywhere: on tables and counters; inside refrigerators; even hanging from the ceiling! Many people in these countries have strong opinions about what smells good or bad, whether something is too spicy or too mild, whether something is “fresh” enough for their liking…and so on.

Americans don’t usually pay as much attention to these sorts of details—not because we don’t like food but because it isn’t part of our culture the same way it is for them (and other cultures). That said…we do have some cultural differences when it comes to describing scents!

Our sense of smell is a survivor – it has a tendency to stay around even when we are young.

Your sense of smell is one of the last senses to go. It’s also the strongest, most sensitive and important of your five senses.

In fact, it’s more than that: A study by olfaction expert Alan Hirsch found that our sense of smell can be used to detect emotions – not only when we’re in a room with someone who’s sad or angry (as you might expect), but even just by looking at pictures of happy or angry faces! You can read more about how this works here. We use our noses for so much more than just smelling things—and luckily for us, that means they’ll stick around longer than any other part of our bodies when we get older!

Most people’s sense of smell starts to decline once they hit their 30s or 40s, but not everyone experiences this change.

Most people’s sense of smell starts to decline once they hit their 30s or 40s, but not everyone experiences this change. Some people are able to maintain a strong sense of smell throughout their lives.

Why is this important?

Humans have about 5 million olfactory receptors—the protein molecules in our noses that detect smells—compared with only 1 million taste buds on our tongues (taste and smell are closely linked). This large number of receptors allows us to discriminate between many different aromas. In fact, even if you get a cold or begin to lose your sense of smell, you may be able to distinguish between most smells simply by using your eyesight and imagination!

Scented candles and essential oils have become very popular over the past few years.

Over the past few years, scented candles and essential oils have become very popular. Scented candles are used as a way to create a calming atmosphere while you’re relaxing in your home. Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways, including diffusers, humidifiers, vaporizers and potpourri.

A good way to start using essential oils is with an aromatherapy diffuser that allows you to enjoy their fragrant benefits throughout your entire home or office without losing any of the therapeutic benefits found in these natural substances. These types of devices are also helpful for people who suffer from respiratory ailments such as asthma or allergies because they reduce airborne particles like dust mites that cause problems for those suffering from respiratory distress conditions such as bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Essential oil users also prefer using these products over traditional methods because they’re more convenient than burning incense sticks which may leave ash residue on surfaces around their homes after use.”

When you sniff something, the scent is transmitted along your olfactory nerve to your brain, where it is interpreted as a specific scent.

When you sniff something, the scent is transmitted along your olfactory nerve to your brain, where it is interpreted as a specific scent. The olfactory nerve is a collection of neurons in the nose that transmits information to the brain. Your brain interprets the scent and decides whether it is pleasant or unpleasant.

The actual origin of that scent determines whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant to you, even if it smells nice in its natural form.

Even though we may like the smell of pine trees, they may not be to your favorite. The reason for this is because scent is a powerful way to trigger memories, both good and bad. And those memories are what make us like or dislike certain scents.

So if you’re looking for a new perfume or cologne, it might be best to try out a sample before you purchase it! Otherwise you could be stuck with something that smells nice in its natural form but isn’t so desirable on yourself.

The nose doesn’t just smell things…it actually understands them.

The nose doesn’t just smell things. It also makes sense of them, connecting the sensations it receives from its various chemical sensors to memories and experiences in a way that can be hard to imagine.

Take a whiff at any moment and you may notice that your brain has already begun processing your scent before you even know what it is. The first thing we usually associate with scents is not their actual chemical makeup but rather our own experiences with them—the memory may be real, or it may be an imagined connection based on associations we have made between something else (like a certain type of food) and that specific fragrance. If all goes well during this initial analysis, your brain will then go on to identify more detailed characteristics about the scent—such as whether it smells like roses or cumin—and group it together with other scents like itself so you can store them alongside one another for future reference.


So if you’ve ever wondered, “What’s that smell?” then now you know. Next time you catch a whiff of something unusual and it makes your stomach turn, think to yourself: Wow, this scent is really powerful!

Leave a Reply