Navigation Links
Weizmann Institute scientists produce the first smell map

Is the smell of almonds closer to that of roses or bananas? Weizmann Institute scientists have now answered that question (roses) by showing for the first time that smells can be mapped and the relative distance between various odors determined. Their findings, which appeared recently in Nature Methods, may help scientists to unravel the basic laws underlying our sense of smell, as well as potentially enabling odors to be digitized and transferred via computer in the future.

We know the musical note do is farther from la than from re on a scale not only because our ears tell us the distance is greater, but because their frequencies are farther apart. No such physical relationship had been discovered for smells, in part because odor molecules are much more difficult to pin down than sound frequencies. To create their map, the scientists began with 250 odorants and generated, for each, a list of around 1,600 chemical characteristics. From this dataset, the researchers, led by Rafi Haddad, a graduate student with Prof. Noam Sobel in the Neurobiology Department, and Prof. David Harel of the Computer Science and Applied Mathematics Department, together with their colleague Rehan Khan, created a multidimensional map of smells that revealed the distance between one odor molecule and another.

Eventually, they pared the list of traits needed to situate an odor on the map down to around 40. They then checked to see whether the brain recognizes this map, similar to the way it recognizes musical scales. They reexamined numerous previously published studies that measured the neural response patterns to smells in a variety of lab animals from fruit flies to rats and found that across all the species, the closer any two smells were on the map, the more similar the neural patterns. The scientists also tested 70 new odors by predicting the neural patterns they would arouse and running comparisons with the unpublished results of olfaction experiments done at the University of Tokyo. They found that their predictions closely matched the experimental results.

These findings lend support to the scientists theory that, contrary to the commonly held view that smell is a subjective experience, there are universal laws governing the organization of smells, and these laws determine how our brains perceive them.


Contact: Yivsam Azgad
Weizmann Institute of Science

Related medicine news :

1. Population Health Impact Institute Releases Methods Evaluation Process(TM) (MEP(TM)) Accreditation Standards for Public Comment Period
2. Worcester Polytechnic Institute announces 2008 Chairmans Exemplary Faculty Prize winners
3. Population Health Impact Institute to Host First Methods Evaluation Process(TM) (MEP(TM)) Workshop at Annual CMSA Conference
4. Presidential Candidates Health Care Plans Lack Key Reform Elements, Aspen Institute Finds
5. Institute for Integrative Nutrition Begins Road Tour
6. OHSU Cancer Institute researchers pinpoint how smoking causes cancer
7. Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine Association (AMIMA) Races Time to Help Cyclone Victims
8. Aspen Institute to Release Presidential Candidates Responses to Health Care Reform Questionnaire; New Zogby Poll Findings Also to be Released
9. Health Care Corporate Compliance Certificate Program to Be Offered at Hamline University School of Laws Health Law Institute
10. The Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation Announces the Appointment of Two New Members
11. NBCHs Community Coalitions Health Institute Receives CDC Grant
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... According to an article published ... Association meeting in Washington D.C. revolved around the fact that proper dental care, both ... talk stressed the link between periodontal disease (more commonly referred to as gum disease) ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... According to an article ... way that they are handling security in light of the recent terrorist attacks in ... an attempt to stop an attack from reaching U.S. soil. Especially around special events ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... , ... November 27, 2015 , ... A team of ... ways to treat it. Surviving Mesothelioma has just posted the findings on the website. ... Hospital Zurich analyzed the cases of 136 mesothelioma patients who were treated with chemotherapy ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... "When I was traveling, I ... Hillside, N.J. "Many people catch diseases simply from sitting on such dirty toilet ... protected from germs." , He developed the patent-pending QUDRATECS to eliminate the need ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... , ... The print component of “Supporting Our Caregivers” is ... York, Minneapolis, South Florida, with a circulation of approximately 250,000 copies and an ... social media strategy and across a network of top news sites and partner ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015 ... addition of the "Global Brain Monitoring ... offering. --> ) has ... Brain Monitoring Devices Market 2015-2019" report ... and Markets ( ) has announced ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. , Nov. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... of a Biologics License Application (BLA) with ... Administration (FDA) for ABP 501, a biosimilar candidate to ... the first adalimumab biosimilar application submitted to the FDA ... biosimilar pathway. Sean E. Harper , M.D., ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015  Linden Care, LLC, ... optimizing treatment outcomes for patients suffering from chronic pain, ... for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining Express Scripts ... two companies. --> --> ... all of its legal options. --> ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: