A 40-year old question of smell solved?

We smell in stereo, says a new report from UC Berkeley

Magnetic resonance images of the human brain indicate that the human mind classifies whether odors are being received from the left or right nostrils, much in the same way that it classifies whether sound comes in from the left ear or the right ear.

This strongly indicates that the human brain localizes smell. While humans may never be able to follow a scent trail the same way bloodhounds can, the principle is the same.

"It seems that we have this ability and that, with practice, you could become really good at it," said study coauthor Noam Sobel, associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley in a prepared statement.

Nobel Prize laureate Georg von Békésy claimed that humans had the ability to localize odors, based on experiments in 1964 with human subjects. Since then, however, scientists have had difficulty replicating his experiments,

Tech Culture
About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.


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