#Humans Can #Smell 1 Trillion Scents Study Says


Updated March 25, 2014 ‚óŹ 351 views

Smell always seems to get the short shrift of the sensory world. We don't rely on it to navigate and communicate like we do sight and sound; it doesn't send shivers up our spine like a caress; and no one's ever claimed a whiff of roses to be orgasmic, like they might a bite of chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.

According to the study:

Humans can discriminate several million different colors and almost half a million different tones, but the number of discriminable olfactory stimuli remains unknown. The lay and scientific literature typically claims that humans can discriminate 10,000 odors, but this number has never been empirically validated. We determined the resolution of the human sense of smell by testing the capacity of humans to discriminate odor mixtures with varying numbers of shared components. On the basis of the results of psychophysical testing, we calculated that humans can discriminate at least 1 trillion olfactory stimuli. This is far more than previous estimates of distinguishable olfactory stimuli. It demonstrates that the human olfactory system, with its hundreds of different olfactory receptors, far outperforms the other senses in the number of physically different stimuli it can discriminate.

via theatlantic.com

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