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C. How Good is Your Sense of Smell?

Narrator: This is Science Today. How good is your sense of smell? Chances are -you may not be the best judge. Noam Sobel, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, conducts olfactory studies and says people often have a poor appreciation of their own sense of smell.

Sobel: We'll have people walk into lab and say 'oh, I'm like a rat, I can sniff out anything' and we'll test them and they'll actually be in terms of threshold, average. And in turn we'll have people come into the lab and say, 'oh, I can't smell a thing'. We'll test them and they'll be keen as a bat.

Narrator: Sobel says the reason for these olfactory discrepancies ties in to how people actually use the information coming from their nose to their brain.

Sobel: It's almost saying like the differences between people in this respect are largely attentional-or to some extent attentional. There are people who pay a lot of attention to olfaction.

Narrator: Sobel recently conducted a study that found that the ability to learn a new smell not only occurs in the nose, but also in the brain. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.