The Sense of Smell Institute and the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS) have announced that the winner of the 2007 Science of Fragrance Award is Jay Gottfried (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine). The award, sponsored by the Sense of Smell Institute and AChemS, was presented to Gottfried in recognition of his work entitled “Olfaction beyond the olfactory bulb: From perception to memory learning modifies neural representations of smell in human olfactory cortex.”
Of his research, Gottfried noted “it is commonly held that the pleasurable properties of a smell are based on mechanisms hard-wired in the human brain.” However, there is increasing evidence that acquired knowledge and experience play a key role in the perception of odors. Gottfried’s research has shown that human perception of odor hedonics can be changed at both the behavioral and neural levels. For example, he reports “a ‘neutral’ smell becomes endowed with emotional value if first experienced with an affective stimulus. This form of emotional learning is associated with perceptual improvements in odor discrimination and with neural plasticity in olfactory limbic brain structures intimately involved in emotion and memory.”
This research could have significance for the fragrance industry as it suggests that consumer perceptions of fragrances can be enhanced if they are linked to potent emotional cues, perhaps through advertising, provocative brand names or package design.