For a long time humans have been considered “microsmatic”, meaning that compared to other mammals our sense of smell is not as refined or acute. However, new evidence suggests that smell plays a key role in mate selection and other emotional responses related to the olfactory process.
It’s no surprise that people rely largely on visual and verbal stimulus regarding our social sexual interactions with other, especially at a distance. But as we get closer to other individuals our sense of smell plays a much greater role.
Our responses to smell are not only conscious but with even more significance are our unconscious responses to the smells associated with our social behavior. What has come to light in recent studies is the fact that, not only do our smell responses send signals to the olfactory cortex where the sense of smell is processed in our brains, but smells are also projecting signals to the limbic region of the brain where emotional and sexual responses occur.
So next time you feel compelled and attracted to someone, it’s safe to assume that on an unconscious level our brains are hard at work evaluating potential mates based on bio-chemical signals we can’t even see or smell.
Source material for this post came from:
Kohl JV, Atzueller M, Fink B, Grammer K. Human Pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and etholgy. Neuroendocrinol Lett 2001;22:309-21