The Benefits of Fragrance

The luncheon speaker at the Symposium was Dr. Morley Kare, who provided an educational and most captivating presentation on the subjects of taste and smell.

Dr. Kare described the many myths and misconceptions about what the human body smells like. Many people think the body has odors but actually most of the secretions of the body are odorless. It is not until bacteria change them that they either become attractive or offensive. Bacteria plays a part in how animals communicate with odors. For instance, the guinea pig has a secretory gland that tells other guinea pigs what its social status is. If you remove those secretions with a hypodermic needle without letting the bacteria change them, they do not mean very much to other guinea pigs. In that system, the bacteria are critical for communication between animals.

Another general myth and misconception is that, in comparison to animals, humans are very poorly endowed in ability to perceive odors. Mice can pick out an individual animal from other animals. Recently at Monell some mouse chemical odors were identified and then some graduate students were tested on their ability to differentiate between individual mice. They are at least as good as mice in this regard.

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