Science News

How Lying Down Affects your Sense of Smell

Sun, 5th Feb 2006

Part of the show Your Questions, Infectious Cancer and Louisiana Wetlands

Valentine's day is approaching fast, and Dr Kat would welcome any card, flowers or chocolates that you might want to send her! But if you're giving your loved one flowers this year, you might want to make sure they don't take them lying down. Researchers in Montreal, Canada, have found that people smell more sensitively if they are upright than if they're lying down. To test this, they put volunteers in a brain scanner, and wafted them with the smell of roses. The scanner showed how intense the smelling activity in the volunteers' brains was. In fact, the researchers found that around two-thirds of the volunteers smelt worse when they were lying down - by which we mean they had less sense of smell! So far, the researchers can't figure out why this may be the case. Perhaps it's because our bodies prepare for sleep when we lie down, or maybe it's due to changes in blood flow to the brain when horizontal. So if you're planning on giving flowers or sprinkling rose petals before your beloved, make sure they stay upright!


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