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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Smello shoes: One small step........

When the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation near Chicago, undertook a study to measure blood flow in response to certain smells they discovered the most arousing odors (for either sex) were neither perfumes nor colognes. Women responded well to “licorice, cucumbers and banana nut bread”; and the men to “lavender, pumpkin pie and doughnuts.” Apparently colognes and perfumes by themselves do nothing, but under certain situations can trigger conditioned responses. Humans appear to learn which smells turn them on as opposed to having a naturural affinity to certain smells. This may fly in the face of perfumeriers who for centuries have produced fragrances built around a "note," a single scent that will stand out and linger, even when surrounded by a dozen other familiar smells. The vomeronasal organ (VNO) or Jacobson's organ which is found in the vomer bone, between the nose and the mouth, functions by detecting distinct chemical compounds including pheromones. The senitive organ can pick up sentless vapour from human sweat and recent studies support gay men and heterosexual women respond to a chemical in the male hormone testosterone which is excreted in male sweat. Swedish researchers have previously showed the hypothalamus (which is involved in sexual behaviour), becomes activated when men smell the estrogen derivative Estrogen sulfotransferase (EST) and women smell AND (the testosterone compound), but not vice versa. The scientists discovered that the testosterone compound activated the hypothalamus in homosexual men and heterosexual women, but not heterosexual men. Conversely, the estrogen compound activated the hypothalamus only in heterosexual men. When the study subjects sniffed scents such as cedar or lavender, all of their brains reacted only in the region that handles smells and not sexual behavior. These results show that the human brain reacts differently to potential pheromones compared with common odors. Pheromones are naturally occurring chemicals that send out subconscious scent signals to the opposite sex that trigger very powerful romantic responses. Bio-technologists have been looking at ways to permanently infuse textiles and materials with scents. Pleasant smelling linen is an obvious application, as would be intimate attire but the researchers are also looking at neutralising foul smelling sportsgear and the Reebok-Kool Collection represents a biotechnological breakthrough.

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