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Author Topic: Do ' smells' really exist ? (and ' taste ' too)  (Read 8356 times)

Offline neilep

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Do ' smells' really exist ? (and ' taste ' too)
« on: 14/09/2006 17:44:46 »
...or are they an illusion...?

is it some chemical reacting with my nostrils that sends a signal to my brain to create the impression of smell in my head ?...same for taste ?.....if so....does that mean that in the event of a horrible accident the sense of smell can be lost forever ?...or even increased ?

How does the brain know how to create the sense of smell ?...it does not have a blueprint of smells does it ?

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Offline Karen W.

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Re: Do ' smells' really exist ? (and ' taste ' too)
« Reply #1 on: 14/09/2006 18:48:07 »
You know I have known people who have lost there sence of smell, sometimes I have trouble with it.. You know how they say when someone is passing on that people have smelled certain things from their childhood and they smell these things, ie like fresh baked bread or the lilcs from a childhood garden... I believe and I am no expert that you do make some kind of memory imprint which then is recalledand stimulates either the memory of the smell or the actual smell, i am not sure, but I know with both my mother and myself in those positions , I recall smelling something I could not put my finger on and stil can't. My mom smelled the liacs, as per what I said.. this happened within about 5 minutes of her death as I was with her! I do believe the sence of smell can be lost forever, but now thinking about it your nasal passages produce and regenerate stem cells there, so maybe that could have a hand in repairing damage to the inside of your nose! I really am not sure though!

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another_someone

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Re: Do ' smells' really exist ? (and ' taste ' too)
« Reply #2 on: 14/09/2006 20:57:52 »
Losing your sense of smell is more commonly because of neurological damage than due to damage in the olfactory gland, although the olfactory gland, like any organ of the body, does lose its efficiency with age.

Yes, there are times that one can smell things that are not there, but that is in essence (if you'll pardon the pun) a hallucination.  I think that olfactory hallucinations are far more common than than visual or auditory hallucinations.

The brains reaction to smell is in principle no different to the brains response to sound.  Just as sound of a particular frequency will cause a specific hair in the inner ear to resonate with the sound (each frequency will have its own hair), and trigger a specific nerve (each hair will have its own nerve); so too, the olfactory gland has lots of different sensors for different groups of chemicals, and each will trigger its own nerve to send a signal to the brain.



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Offline neilep

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Re: Do ' smells' really exist ? (and ' taste ' too)
« Reply #3 on: 14/09/2006 22:40:17 »
THANK YOU GEORGE AND THANK YOU KAREN.

I have to say I have not heard of  ' passing ' people smelling lilacs but take comfort that your mother was able to tell you this.

So, if we had the capability, we could re-wire nerves so that a rancid bitter lemon coudl taste like a beautiful ripe strawberry.


I can understand that the smell as perceived by the brain is dictated to by the olfactory glands sensors. I wonder if there are smells that do not register ?..now I realise there are animals that have a far more sensitive sensory perception than us ...Woof woofs etc..but does that just mean that they are more sensitive to these smells or that they have a broader spectrum of tastey aroma love to enjoy ?..in other words they smell aromas that we just can not. ..

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another_someone

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Re: Do ' smells' really exist ? (and ' taste ' too)
« Reply #4 on: 14/09/2006 23:20:40 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep
I have to say I have not heard of  ' passing ' people smelling lilacs but take comfort that your mother was able to tell you this.



I have heard of olfactory hallucination in case of brain cancers, but I can imagine that as the brain is dying, it could easily trigger such hallucinations.

quote:

So, if we had the capability, we could re-wire nerves so that a rancid bitter lemon coudl taste like a beautiful ripe strawberry.

I can understand that the smell as perceived by the brain is dictated to by the olfactory glands sensors. I wonder if there are smells that do not register ?..now I realise there are animals that have a far more sensitive sensory perception than us ...Woof woofs etc..but does that just mean that they are more sensitive to these smells or that they have a broader spectrum of tastey aroma love to enjoy ?..in other words they smell aromas that we just can not. ..



Maybe not smell, but taste (but the two are not dissimilar), but I understand that cats cannot taste sweetness.

Certainly there would be good reason why different animals would smell different odours to suite different lifestyles.

Have a look at http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5101#52228 , particularly the reference to “Primates swap smell for sight”.



George
 

Offline Gaia

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Re: Do ' smells' really exist ? (and ' taste ' too)
« Reply #5 on: 15/09/2006 11:53:09 »
Have you heard of synesthesia? It is when one's senses 'overlap'. For example, when one hears a certain word, or sees a specific written letter, that person also smells a specific smell or tastes a specific taste or sees a specific colour. Or seeing a colour can trigger a sense of taste/smell etc. This implies that there are cross-connections in the brain and there is still research being undertaken in this field.

People with a reduced sense of smell (think back to when you had a heavy cold) have a reduced sense of taste. Again indicating the brain 'overlapping' of the senses.

It also aids memory if one has a more complete sensory experience and there are also 'association' techniques. Some senses, for example taste, smell etc can trigger associated memories.

Gaia  xxx
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: Do ' smells' really exist ? (and ' taste ' too)
« Reply #6 on: 15/09/2006 17:01:46 »
I have experienced these things... And when my mom died... I remember a her saying that she could smell her lilacs and she wanted to cut some for the house.. She wasn,t making alot of since, but she did tell me while cinscious that she could smell them... at firt I looked around thinking there may be a vase of flowers in the room, but then I checked around me and nothing, I told her I couldn't smell them, she tried to take big breath in as if to smell them more , she said ohh they really smell nice! Perhaps it was a memory triggered thing....who knows...When I had my death experiences, or at least with the memory of that time, whatever it was I was smelling smelled kind of sweet! I don't know what it was.. When I remember that memory and think about it, I can smell it sort of, or remember the smell, If I smelled it again. I would recognize the smell.cotton candy has a similar smell an sometimes triggers that memory in me!

Karen
 

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Re: Do ' smells' really exist ? (and ' taste ' too)
« Reply #6 on: 15/09/2006 17:01:46 »

 

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