Words Affect Sense Of Smell

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A rose by any other name may not smell as sweet according to new research that shows words affect how scents are perceived.

It's a finding that should come as welcome news to restaurateurs and advertising copywriters. Researchers found that describing a scent with pleasant words before presenting it may actually cause the brain to perceive it more positively.

That means people may perceive the same scent as more pleasant when it is labeled as "cheddar cheese" rather than "body odor."

The findings appear in the May 19 issue of the journal Neuron.

Words Affect Smells

In the study, researchers presented a group of people with a cheddar cheese scent labeled as either cheddar cheese or body odor.

They also scanned the subjects' brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine which areas of the brain were activated. The participants were presented with clean air that had been labeled as cheddar cheese or body odor.