NPR

Why Your Sense Of Smell Is Better Than You Might Think

A neuroscientist argues that our noses are more powerful than we think. Humans, he says, actually have a great sense of smell.
Turns out humans are better at smelling than you might think. Source: CSA Images/ Color Printstock Col

Smell, the thinking goes, is not our strongest sense. Our lowly noses are eclipsed by our ability to see the world around us, hear the sound of music and feel the touch of a caress. Even animals, we're taught, have a far more acute sense of smell than we do.

But one scientist argues the idea of an inferior sense of smell stems from a 19th-century myth.

When neuroscientist John McGann at Rutgers started

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR5 min read
Replacing Plastic: Can Bacteria Help Us Break The Habit?
Entrepreneurs are eager to find substitutes for plastic that naturally degrade. One option is a "natural" plastic made by microbes and then eaten by them. But the process is still in early days.
NPR12 min readPolitics
Tobacco's 'Special Friend': What Internal Documents Say About Mitch McConnell
The Senate majority leader wants to raise the age for tobacco sales to 21. An NPR review of once-secret documents shows how closely McConnell has worked with the industry over decades.
NPR5 min read
A Year After Spinal Surgery, A $94,000 Bill Feels Like A Backbreaker
A service called neuromonitoring can cut the risk of nerve damage during delicate surgery. But some patients are receiving large bills they didn't expect.