Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anxiety boosts sense of smell

Date:
March 22, 2012
Source:
Springer
Summary:
Anxious people have a heightened sense of smell when it comes to sniffing out a threat, according to a new study.

Anxious people have a heightened sense of smell when it comes to sniffing out a threat, according to a new study by Elizabeth Krusemark and Wen Li from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.

In animals, the sense of smell is an essential tool to detect, locate and identify predators in the surrounding environment. In fact, the olfactory-mediated defense system is so prominent in animals, that the mere presence of predator odors can evoke potent fear and anxiety responses.

Smells also evoke powerful emotional responses in humans. Krusemark and Li hypothesized that in humans, detection of a particular bad smell may signal danger of a noxious airborne substance, or a decaying object that carries disease.

Their work is published online in Springer's journal Chemosensory Perception. The study is part of a special issue of this journal on neuroimaging the chemical senses.

The researchers exposed 14 young adult participants to three types of odors: neutral pure odor, neutral odor mixture, and negative odor mixture. They asked them to detect the presence or absence of an odor in an MRI scanner. During scanning, the researchers also measured the skin's ability to conduct electricity (a measure of arousal level) and monitored the subjects' breathing patterns. Once the odor detection task was over, and the subjects were still in the scanner, they were asked to rate their current level of anxiety. The authors then analyzed the brain images obtained.

They found that as anxiety levels rose, so did the subjects' ability to discriminate negative odors accurately -- suggesting a 'remarkable' olfactory acuity to threat in anxious subjects. The skin conductance results showed that anxiety also heightened emotional arousal to smell-induced threats.

The authors uncovered amplified communication between the sensory and emotional areas of the brain in response to negative odors, particularly in anxiety. This increased connectivity could be responsible for the heightened arousal to threats.

Krusemark and Li conclude: "This enhanced sensory-emotional coupling could serve as a critical mechanism to arouse adequate physiological alertness to potential insults."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elizabeth A. Krusemark, Wen Li. Enhanced Olfactory Sensory Perception of Threat in Anxiety: An Event-Related fMRI Study. Chemosensory Perception, 2012; 5 (1): 37 DOI: 10.1007/s12078-011-9111-7

Cite This Page:

Springer. "Anxiety boosts sense of smell." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322100317.htm>.
Springer. (2012, March 22). Anxiety boosts sense of smell. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322100317.htm
Springer. "Anxiety boosts sense of smell." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322100317.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) A new study shows stress at work can be hard on your health, but people who are unemployed might be at even greater risk of health problems. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Sometimes the signs of a stroke are far from easy to recognize. Learn from one young father’s story on the signs of a stroke. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Could eating carbohydrates be harmful to our brain health? Find out what one neurologist says about changing our diets. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins