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B. Your Brain is Teaching Your Nose New Tricks

Narrator: This is Science Today. Any wine connoisseur is aware that you can train your nose to detect subtle aromas, but where does this learning take place? Noam Sobel, professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, has found the ability to learn a new smell not only occurs in the nose, but also in the brain. His study involved people learning to detect androstenone, an odor reminiscent of 'dirty laundry.'

Sobel: What we did was went ahead and replicated that classic study of taking non-detectors of androstenone and systematically exposing them to androstenone to teach them to detect it. But rather than doing it just ordinarily, we exposed only one nostril of these non-detectors.

Narrator: Sobel found that although our nostrils are not neurologically in communication with each other, the exposed nostril was able to teach the unexposed one through connections made in the brain.

Sobel: The idea is that if the other would learn, even though it was never exposed, that means plasticity had to be in the brain.

Narrator: Sobel's findings open an exciting dialogue on how the brain changes and even heals itself. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.