Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Aroma News

I have been reading about the sense of smell, which I've written about on my other blog. I just read a summary of new research about sensitivity to odors here. The summarizing quote from one of the cited articles:
Our team recently discovered that blood cells — not only cells in the nose — have odorant receptors. In the nose, these so-called receptors sense substances called odorants and translate them into an aroma that we interpret as pleasing or not pleasing in the brain. But surprisingly, there is growing evidence that also the heart, the lungs and many other non-olfactory organs have these receptors.

It seems startling that blood cells can also react to aromatic chemicals, though I don't quite understand why their sensitivity would be categorized as either taste or smell. My reading project so far deals with a lot of cultural issues surrounding odors, not just with the role of smell in tasting food, with physiology, and with mechanisms of detecting odors. I've only read a bit about the intricate relationship between aroma sensors in the nose and other sensors like taste buds that are on the tongue or in the mouth. It's fascinating how the science of taste and smell is advancing so rapidly that even the science in 20 year old books is often out of date.

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