I’ve not encountered Herz’s work before but it turns out she’s done a great deal of scientific research on the psychology and neuroscience of smell and has just written a book, The Scent of Desire, which seems to present the science of smell in an accessible format.
The interview contains a number of gems, but this particularly caught my eye:
Why do we grow accustomed to odors, but not to something like sound? In other words, why is the stench of garbage outside my apartment nowhere near as distracting as the drilling?
When we experience olfactory adaptation, the receptor literally stops responding to a chemical in the air after about twenty minutes. We adapt to all the sensations that are out there, but when the drilling starts and stops, your attention focuses on it and you’re irritated.
Smell is a fascinating area, perhaps because it is relatively unstudied (especially compared to vision).
We previously covered an interesting review article that talked about the fact that the brain has two smell networks – something that came us a complete surprise to me.