Nose is the primary organ for scent detection. It is surprising, that knowledge about scent perception is so scarce. By evaluation of scientific work done on fragrance, we are sometimes surprised how complicated are processes that deliver us information about our environment and how processing of them is dependent on the individual. On next links, you find some interesting articles connected with our perception of scent.
How important is a sense of scent is clearly described by Emma Young in her article about a man, who lost a sense of smell overnight (What the nose knows!). It is not necessary, that we loose scent sense in so heavy manner. You can read more about of olfactory sense malfunction for instance (https://www.utmb.edu/otoref/Grnds/smell-2012-01/smell-pic-2012-0130.pdf ). Just a little cold and problems with nose connected with it can give us a good picture of the importance of scent and its consequences. Personally, I am getting older and already noticed, that my ability for scent detection and identification is declined. Problems associated with declination are not so big because the ability for detection of smells connected to dangers (microbiological, chemical and similar) isn’t affected too much. Professionally it is quite a problem and opinion of others becomes more important. We discuss more about scent communication (https://scent.center/talking-about-scent/) and continue with this aspect also in the future.
As I begun my activities in the scent industry the first new approach to scent was, how to use the power of scent as an orientation tool. Based on the experience of dangerous situations in the chemical industry I knew how low levels of dangerous chemicals can be detected (we had to deal with formalin, Chlorine and Sulphur dioxide). This high sensitivity of our noses enabled us to prevent dangerous spills and detect critical points of installations. Later I noticed that other people made serious research of using nose as orientation tool (Lucia F. Jacobs, Jennifer Arter, Amy Cook, Frank J. Sulloway, Published: June 17, 2015, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0129387). Their findings allow us to believe, that we didn’t lost our sensibility for scent detection and recognition in comparison to other species in so great measure as we think. By contacting other people and on my own experience I can also assert, that some “olfactory training” refines our scent identification.
In this blog, we will not discuss details about scent physiology. Some introduction into this very complex mechanism can be found (https://www.slideshare.net/KASHMEERA-N-A/physiology-of-smell ) and many other sources. It’s not surprising that scent detection is connected with so many issue of human social interactions including propagation and wellbeing. Social impact of scent picture in our daily life can be described as in an article written by Kate Taylor (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/08/20/nyregion/new-york-city-summer-smells.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0 ). Also in art, we have to deal with scent impressions and effort to stimulate our perception of visual or other artistic work. I highly admire a work of Sissel Tolaas (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sissel_Tolaas) pioneer work in urban smell detection and last not least imitation, that enabled basic research on our scent environment (http://www.designindaba.com/videos/conference-talks/sissel-tolaas-discovering-world-perspective-nose and other sources by Sissel Tolaas ) and our behaviour connected with scent.
Our senses are overloaded. Overloading is also detectable in scent issues. Almost every day we face new editions of personal scents (Perfumes) sometimes applicated in va ery brutal way. Producers of all kinds of products are trying to dazzle us with their scent signature and make us chooses even more difficult as they were in times where a spectrum of scent variations wasn’t so big. According to some research, we can distinguish millions of different scents, but can we recall them all? Many individuals and companies are today hard working to allow us making difference in a scent of product avoiding to flood consumers with scent chaos. Scent applications are more and more delicious and oriented to scent emanation only if that is necessary for products function or better distinguishing one product from other.
Surprisingly also a market for scent prevention or masking is growing! Technologies of scent propagation in all kind of products were improved in last decades and maybe we will come to the point where our nose will become a little rest and time for really sensation of good scent impression. We notice that more and more scent spreading equipment is largely directed with software for overload prevention and more environmentally friendly design of scent picture. Our nose is the important sensor that is not only connected with scent, but heavily with taste sensations. Not accidentally one of the leading media is Perfumer&Flavorist (https://www.perfumerflavorist.com/ ).