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What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life

by Avery Gilbert

Avery Gilbert is one of only a handful of psychologists in America who study olfaction. There's nowhere to get trained directly in the business; you can't enroll for a PhD in Perfume Studies. With What the Nose Knows, Gilbert takes us inside his work and the realm of smell, giving a fascinating account of the familiar yet mysterious world of scent that is grounded in science but often ends up showing us a reflection of our culture. He sets out to answer the questions he is most often asked: Is the ephemeral nature of odours due to their physical makeup, or to the way our brains process information? Do animals have a keener sense of smell than humans, and how can we tell? How do scents--a mere collection of airborne molecules--become powerful carriers of symbolic meaning? Do odors alter our emotions or behaviour, and is it ethical for companies to try to surreptitiously influence customers with scent? The link between smell and memory is well known--but is it actually an illusion?

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