About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Study Shows How We can Literally 'Smell Out Danger'

by Sheela Philomena on December 16, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Font : A-A+

 Study Shows How We can Literally 'Smell Out Danger'

Scientists in a recent study has found that it is possible to smell out danger beforehand with the help of previously experienced fearful incidents as they can set off one's heightened sense of smell.

It was previously thought that we become afraid of an odor, such as leaking gas, only after information about a scary scent is processed by our brain.

Advertisement

But neuroscientists at Rutgers University studying the olfactory system in mice have discovered that this fear reaction can occur at the sensory level, even before the brain has the opportunity to interpret that the odor could mean trouble.

John McGann, associate professor of behavioral and systems neuroscience in the Department of Psychology, and his colleagues, report that neurons in the noses of lab animals reacted more strongly to threatening odors before the odor message was sent to the brain.
Advertisement

McGann said that we tend to think of learning as something that only happens deep in the brain after conscious awareness, but now we see how the nervous system can become especially sensitive to threatening stimuli and that fear-learning can affect the signals passing from sensory organs to the brain.

McGann and students Marley Kass and Michelle Rosenthal made this discovery by using light to observe activity in the brains of genetically engineered mice through a window in the mouse' skull.

They found that those mice that received an electric shock simultaneously with a specific odor showed an enhanced response to the smell in the cells in the nose, before the message was delivered to the neurons in the brain.

The scientists also discovered a heightened sensitivity to odors in the mice traumatized by shock.

When these mice smelled the odor associated with the electrical shocks, the amount of neurotransmitter, chemicals that carry communications between nerve cells, released from the olfactory nerve into the brain was as big as if the odor were four times stronger than it actually was.

This new research could help to better understand conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in which feelings of anxiety and fear exist even though an individual is no longer in danger.

The study is published in journal Science.

Source: ANI
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Contraceptive Pills in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Curtail Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Mushroom May Help Cut Down the Odds of Developing Depression
How to Battle Boredom during COVID
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.


Recommended Reading
Smell and Taste Disorders - Diagnosis - Treatment - Reference
Smell and taste disorders are common chemosensory disorders that are capable of affecting an ......
Neglected Babies Likelier to Develop 'Dangerous' Behavior
During early stages of life, children who do not receive enough love from their mothers are more ......
Electric Shock - First Aid and Emergency Treatment Guide
A quick and simple first Aid guide on how to administer treatment for electric shock....
Mouse Pups can Inherit Learned Sensitivity of a Smell
History provides examples of generations traumatized by war and starvation, whose children ......

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use