Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ooo-ooo that smell

…Is your nose constantly twitching with each little breeze?

…Can you walk through a perfume department and remember every old boyfriend or girlfriend associated with a scent?

…Smell is the most evocative of the senses, causing unsummoned memories to leap full-blown into your head.

…Scientists call this the “Proust Effect,” after the author who nibbled a cookie and was plunged into a long memory that lasted the length of “The Remembrance of Things Past.”

…Smells are processed by the limbic system of the brain, a group of structures known as the rhinencephalon or “smell brain.” This is an older, primitive part of the brain used to detect danger, fire, poison, or prey.

…People usually cannot describe a smell in words, but can convey the emotion that accompanied it.

…Sometimes that emotion is disgust. Peee-ew, that guy in the next office who never takes a shower or if he does, the shower doesn’t “take.”

…Writing in the Albany Times Union, Kristi L. Gustafson says offensive office odors are becoming a real issue.

…Burned popcorn, leftover tuna, outdated colognes applied with a front loader…All can pollute the place.

…Everyone’s sensitivity to smell varies—and bad smells are more readily recognized by the brain that good ones.

…If you don’t want to tell an employee or coworker that he or she…er…stinks, there is (of course) a website. Check out

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