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Report on the International Conference on the Psychology of Perfumery

Contact Author J. Stephan Jellinek
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The Second International Conference on the Psychology of Perfumery was held on July 22-26, 1991 at the University of Warwick, Coventry, England. This conference, like its predecessor five years ago, was conceived and organized by two enterprising members of the University of Warwick staff: the psychologist Steve Van Toller and the biochemist- perfumer-aromatherapist George Dodd. Its ambitious purpose was succinctly defined by George Dodd as advancing our understanding of the interactions between the three Ms: molecules (the olfactory stimuli), membranes (the receptors) and moods (the effects of odors on the organism). The conference provided a few reports of substantive progress towards this goal. Moreover, it offered, in 3-1/2 densely packed days, a mix of lectures, which in its diversity of subject matter, approach and (this must be said) quality, was challenging and stimulating for everyone with broad interest in the field, The smallness of the assembly (there were some 70-odd attendees in all) facilitated lively question- answer periods and debates.

The largest single group of related Iectures dealt with applications of the B.E.A.M. (brain electrical activity mapping) technique to humans responding to olfactory stimuli. It included the reports by Steve Van Toller and Martin Kendal-Reed on the work in progress at Warwick University. Kendal-Reed's work on 12-week-old infants showed highly developed brain responses to food odors even at this tender age and provided support for the view that in the newborn, the chemical senses are the most developed ones and that visual and auditory dominance only comes later.