Does a smell seem different to you between your left and right nostrils? If you’ve never tried it, take the test! Researchers have shown in a study that you do not perceive exactly the same smell on the left as on the right. TipsForWomens explains.
Study on the perception of the smell of each nostril
Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and the Barrow Neurological Institute conducted research on the perception of smell from each nostril. To do this, they examined how the brain processes olfactory information coming from each nostril, by setting up a test.
Scientists equipped ten people with intracranial depth electrodes. Each of them then had to identify different odors, by being stimulated either in their left nostril, their right nostril or both at the same time. This test was carried out using an olfactometer, a device used to measure the intensity of the odor. Participants in this test were asked which nostril the odor came from.
Each nostril has its own sense of smell
Researchers found that participants were more easily able to recognize an odor when they used both nostrils at the same time. Tests with only one nostril show that they do not seem to have a perceptual preference between right and left.
According to the scientists’ interpretation of the tests, the study release states: “The identity of the odor could be decoded from oscillations in the brain region of the piriform cortex, via neuronal activity recorded from an intracranial electroencephalogram. The researchers observed that odor identity was encoded at two distinct, temporally separated epochs in the binocular condition, suggesting that a distinct interpretation of the odor occurs via each nostril..”
The stimuli to each nostril had similar effects but with distinct encodings. Thus, researchers deduce that each nostril has its own sense of smell. Indeed, they have subtle differences in the way they perceive smell.