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The Science and Opportunities of Modern Fragrance

By: Stephen Weller, IFRA
Posted: May 12, 2009
IFRA Seminar

IFRA Seminar Audience

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How children interpret and distinguish smells is part of a key academic debate on whether infants have an innate knowledge of odors or whether it is learned. A famous study on the subject was done by Steiner et al. on day-old babies’ reactions to “good and bad” smells. However, other academics have suggested that the reactions of the infants may be just as much to the intensity of the smell rather than the smell itself.

“There are many studies that say that this sense is innate, but I believe it is learned,” said Jacobs. He illustrated his point by explaining that babies have to be taught not to play with their own feces. “If the sense of smell was innate they would avoid it automatically”.

The Seminar concluded with a comment by van Toller: “People interpret the world visually and aurally—perhaps it is time that the olfactory sense was used more as well.”