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Men without a sense of smell exhibit a strongly reduced number of sexual relationships, women exhibit reduced partnership security - A reanalysis of previously published data

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Abstract

Olfactory function influences social behavior. For instance, olfaction seems to play a key role in mate choice and helps detecting emotions in other people. In a previous study, we showed that people who were born without a sense of smell exhibit enhanced social insecurity. Based on the comments to this article we decided to have a closer look to whether the absence of the sense of smell affects men and women differently. Under this focus questionnaire data of 32 patients, diagnosed with isolated congenital anosmia (10 men, 22 women) and 36 age-matched healthy controls (15 men, 21 women) was reanalyzed. In result, men and women without a sense of smell reported enhanced social insecurity, but with different consequences: Men who were born without a sense of smell exhibit a strongly reduced number of sexual relationships and women are affected such that they feel less secure about their partner. This emphasizes the importance of the sense of smell for intimate relationships.

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... Such individuals are born without a sense of smell, but are otherwise healthy. Here, a reduced number of sexual partners were detected in men, while women were not affected (Croy, Bojanowski, & Hummel, 2013). Yet, a distinct causal relationship between both factors was not entirely obvious and it was assumed that the reduced number of sexual partners in men was driven by enhanced levels of social insecurity in anosmic compared to normosmic individuals as a negative correlation between levels of social insecurity and number of sexual partners in men was reported and social insecurity might be caused by an impaired sense of smell (Croy et al., 2013). ...
... Here, a reduced number of sexual partners were detected in men, while women were not affected (Croy, Bojanowski, & Hummel, 2013). Yet, a distinct causal relationship between both factors was not entirely obvious and it was assumed that the reduced number of sexual partners in men was driven by enhanced levels of social insecurity in anosmic compared to normosmic individuals as a negative correlation between levels of social insecurity and number of sexual partners in men was reported and social insecurity might be caused by an impaired sense of smell (Croy et al., 2013). ...
... In a nonparametric correlational analysis (Spearman), potential correlations between odor threshold and measures for sexual desire, sexual performance, and sexual experience were assessed. These correlations were reviewed for all participants and separately for men and women, due to the expected genderspecific relation between levels of olfactory function and sexual behavior and desire (Croy et al., 2013) as well as a previously reported gender-related difference in the perception of odors (Hummel, Kobal, Gudziol, & Mackay-Sim, 2007). ...
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The olfactory system contributes significantly to human social behavior and especially to mate choice and empathic functioning. In this context, previous research examining individuals with impaired olfactory function indicated an influence of the sense of smell on different aspects of sexuality. However, the applied samples, methods, and results are diverse and an involvement of confounding factors, such as breathing problems, depression or social insecurity cannot be ruled out. The present study examined the potential correlation between odor threshold in healthy participants and their sexual desire, sexual experience, and sexual performance. In 70 adults (28 male, 42 female; mean age 24.8 ± 4.1 years), odor threshold was assessed using the “Sniffin’ Sticks.” The participants also responded to a battery of questions on sexual desire (Sexual Desire Inventory), sexual experience (orgasm frequency, perceived pleasantness of sexual activities on a visual analogue scale) as well as sexual performance (frequency of having sex, average duration of sexual intercourse). Odor sensitivity correlated positively with sexual experience: Participants with high olfactory sensitivity reported higher pleasantness of sexual activities. Further, women with high olfactory sensitivity reported a higher frequency of orgasms during sexual intercourse. These findings were exclusively present for sexual experience; no significant correlations were detected for sexual desire or sexual performance. The experience of sexual interactions appears to be enriched by olfactory input. We discuss that the perception of certain body odors may contribute to the concept of sexual pleasure by enhanced recruitment of reward areas.
... Previous research suggests that there exists a bi-directional link between olfactory impairment and depression [9], as olfactory and emotional processing occurs in overlapping brain structures and alterations in one of the networks can affect the other domain likewise. Impairment in sexual life due to olfactory problems can differ between men and women [8]: Whereas men born without a sense of smell reported a reduced number of sexual relationships compared to healthy controls, anosmic women were not affected in that area, but in their feeling of partnership security. ...
... Hereby two clusters of responses emerged: The patients either stated reduced sexual desire, or they specified impairment in sexual experience, and partnership related sexuality. In line with a study about congenital anosmia [8], the proportion of women reporting partnership related problems was much higher than the proportion of men. ...
... In line with previous studies, smell disorder patients were less secure [8], less independent in relationships, and more depressed [9] than controls. The latter predicted the perceived change of sexual desire since the onset of the smell disorder and patients who perceived their sexual desire as decreased since the olfactory loss did this irrespective of partnership attachment. ...
Article
Olfaction moderates human sexual experiences and smell disorder patients sometimes spontaneously complain about impairments in their sexual life. The aim of the present study was to systematically investigate the impact of olfactory dysfunction on sexual desire. We compared a sample of n = 100 (n = 52 women; aged 23–51 years, M = 40.1, SD = 8.2) outpatients with olfactory disorders to a sample of n = 51 healthy controls (n = 32 women; aged 21–63 years, M = 39.2, SD = 13.1). Sexual desire was assessed with a standardized questionnaire and with two additional items asking for quantitative and qualitative change of sexual desire since the onset of olfactory loss. In addition, subjects completed questionnaires about mood and partnership attachment. Within the patients’ group, 29% of the subjects reported decreased sexual desire since the onset of olfactory loss. This change was predicted by depressive symptoms and olfactory function. Qualitative reports revealed for instance that the lack of attraction due to the other's body odor impedes partnership intimacy. The change of sexual desire was significantly related to depression and severity of olfactory impairment but not to partnership attachment. However, in the standardized questionnaire about sexual desire we observed no differences between patients and controls. To sum up, a considerable number of patients state sexual impairment as a concomitant complaint of olfactory dysfunction. Patients do typically not spontaneously report those intimate problems, routine care settings should inform about this common side effect and explicitly ask for sexual life.
... Physical symptoms that indicate the presence of a sexually transmitted disease, including BOs, can reduce the perceived mate value of a partner and damage the intimate relations of a couple, potentially spurring relationship breakdown [9,10]. Symptoms of disease that produce odor may be especially effective at evoking disgust as, unlike the other senses, olfactory evoked disgust does not habituate [28]. Body odors from dirty armpits, clothes, and feet can evoke disgust and are associated with poor personal hygiene in Western culture [10,29]. ...
... Isolated congenital anosmia (ICA) is characterized by an absence of olfactory percept due to an aplastic or hypoplasic olfactory bulb [34]. In comparison to individuals with normal olfactory ability, male anosmics reported a significantly reduced number of sexual partners, which may be due to their reported enhanced social insecurity as well as their increased prevalence of reported depression [28,35]. Moreover, female anosmics report greater relationship insecurity than non-anosmic females [28]. ...
... In comparison to individuals with normal olfactory ability, male anosmics reported a significantly reduced number of sexual partners, which may be due to their reported enhanced social insecurity as well as their increased prevalence of reported depression [28,35]. Moreover, female anosmics report greater relationship insecurity than non-anosmic females [28]. ...
Article
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Anecdotal reports indicate that women dislike their partner’s body odor (BO) during the breakdown of a relationship; however, whether disliking a partner’s BO is associated with intentions to break up has not been empirically tested. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to investigate, for the first time, whether disliking one’s partner’s BOs is associated with experiencing lower commitment to a romantic relationship. Eighty participants (48 partnered, 32 single and previously partnered) completed self-report questionnaires about their current or previous romantic relationship and the amount of exposure to—and hedonic ratings of—their current or former partner’s BOs. Olfactory function was also tested, and participants smelled and rated various pieces of clothing imbued with a stranger’s BO. The results demonstrated that for participants who had experienced a breakup, historically higher levels of relationship commitment were associated with higher hedonic ratings of a previous partner’s BOs, regardless of the type of BOs. For participants currently in a relationship, lower relationship commitment was associated with higher breakup intentions in response to smelling their partner’s BOs. These preliminary results contribute evidence for the positive association between exposure to a partner’s BOs and favorable hedonic appraisals of BOs; however, further research needs to be conducted in this area to investigate nuances. Lower levels of exposure to one’s partner’s BOs may be more indicative of relationship commitment than exposure to hedonically unpleasant BOs of one’s partner. The findings are discussed with reference to their implications for interventions in relationship breakdown.
... [41][42][43] Like ferrets and monkeys, men as well as women with isolated congenital anosmia (who lacked any sense of smell for a lifetime) reportedly have heterosexual mating experiences in adulthood. 44 Such observations suggest that in higher mammals there may be a diminished influence of olfaction on sexual arousal and actual mating, 45 suggesting that olfactory signals may integrate with other sensory and cognitive information to regulate successful mating in larger-brained species. ...
... Thus, men who could not smell had significantly fewer sexual relationships than control men while women who lacked the ability to smell reported a significant reduction in "partnership security". 44 In a subsequent study by this group 120 30% of men and women reported decreased sexual desire after the onset of a temporary episode of anosmia. Interestingly, both studies 44,120 found that more women than men reported reductions in partnership security after the onset of anosmia. ...
... 44 In a subsequent study by this group 120 30% of men and women reported decreased sexual desire after the onset of a temporary episode of anosmia. Interestingly, both studies 44,120 found that more women than men reported reductions in partnership security after the onset of anosmia. Moreover, in a recent study of men and women with normal olfaction 121 subjects of both sexes showed a significant correlation between olfactory sensitivity and the rated pleasantness of sexual intercourse, with women (but not men) with high olfactory sensitivity reporting enhanced occurrence of orgasm during intercourse. ...
Article
We summarize literature from animal as well as human studies assessing sex differences in the ability of the main olfactory system to detect and process sex‐specific olfactory signals (‘pheromones’) that control the expression of psychosexual functions in males and females. A case is made in non primate mammals for an obligatory role of pheromonal signaling via the main olfactory system (in addition to the vomeronasal‐accessory olfactory system) in mate recognition and sexual arousal, with male‐specific as well as female‐specific pheromones subserving these functions in the opposite sex. Although the case for an obligatory role of pheromones in mate recognition and mating among old world primates, including humans, is weaker, we review the current literature assessing the role of putative human pheromones (e.g., AND; EST; ‘copulin’), detected by the main olfactory system, in promoting mate choice and mating in men and women. Based on animal studies, we hypothesize that sexually dimorphic effects of putative human pheromones are mediated via main olfactory inputs to the medial amygdala which, in turn, transmits olfactory information to sites in the hypothalamus that regulate reproduction. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This review discusses the role of main olfactory pathways in the processing of chemosignals involved in mammalian reproduction
... Further evidence of the connection between olfaction and romantic relationships comes from Croy and colleagues [41] who found that congenitally anosmic women reported higher degrees of romantic relationship security, whereas congenitally anosmic men reported fewer sexual partners than those with an intact sense of smell. From these findings, Croy and colleagues [41] posited that olfactory deficits depreciate a male's exploratory behaviors. ...
... Further evidence of the connection between olfaction and romantic relationships comes from Croy and colleagues [41] who found that congenitally anosmic women reported higher degrees of romantic relationship security, whereas congenitally anosmic men reported fewer sexual partners than those with an intact sense of smell. From these findings, Croy and colleagues [41] posited that olfactory deficits depreciate a male's exploratory behaviors. Since the inability to rely on these chemosensory signals reduces their confidence in reading potential romantic interests within a social context, this leads to a decrease in the initiation of romantic relationships. ...
... In addition, the same pattern of results was found for olfactory awareness. These findings are consistent with Croy and colleagues' [41], who found that females with no sense of smell reported significantly higher degrees of romantic relationship insecurity than females who were capable of smelling. These results suggest that greater attachment insecurity is related to reduced olfactory functioning. ...
Article
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Individuals in healthy romantic relationships gain significant benefits to their psychological wellbeing and physiological health. Notably, the majority of relationship research has focused on how adult attachment influences these relationship outcomes while the role of olfaction remains an emerging research focus. The aim of the current study was to bring together these seemingly unrelated factors–attachment and olfaction–in an online quasi-experimental design. The participants were 401 undergraduate students, predominantly females, ranging in age from 17 to 70 years. Participants completed a battery of questionnaires that evaluated their attachment tendencies, olfactory ability and experiences in romantic relationships. Results indicated that attachment insecurity, across both attachment anxiety and avoidance, was associated with decreased olfactory functioning for females. These findings provide preliminary evidence that olfaction is related to romantic relationship maintenance and suggests that body odors could be fundamental for evoking the attachment system. These findings also elicit enticing new avenues of research which can assist psychologists to provide targeted treatments to individuals with olfactory deficits and insecure attachment tendencies.
... Moreover, sense of smell decreased significantly, nasal discomfort increased, and overall erectile function was unsatisfactory in patients who suffered from both RD and ED. These results are consistent with previous findings of patients diagnosed with dysosmia losing sexual desire (Croy et al., 2013;Gudziol et al., 2009). We detected a significant correlation between olfactory threshold and ED. ...
... Periovulatory odors increase testosterone and cortisol levels in adult males, producing strong sexual desire (Cerda-Molina et al., 2013). Croy reported that the hypothalamus becomes activated in men with medium androstenedione concentrations (Croy et al., 2013). Thus, we hypothesize that smelling the chemosignal androstenedione via the VNO elicits activation of the hypothalamus. ...
Article
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Background: The olfactory system influences human social behavior, in particular the selection of a spouse. However, there is currently a lack of clinical research on the relationship between the olfactory system and erectile dysfunction (ED) in adult males. Aim: We explored the association between olfactory sensitivity and erectile function and its possible mechanisms. Results: A total of 574 patients, adult males aged between 19 and 42 years, diagnosed with ED in the Department of Infertility and Sexual Medicine of the Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University from 2015 to 2018 were analyzed retrospectively. Among them, 115 patients (20.03%) had rhinologic diseases (RDs). In addition, in 201 adult male patients who underwent nasal surgery in the ENT department from 2012 to 2016, including 29 (14.43%) with ED, nasal congestion, nasal discharge, and hyposmia were the most common complaints based on the numerical rating scale (NRS). Furthermore, a prospective study was performed in a total of 102 sequential outpatients (male adults) with RD only (n = 46), ED only (n = 42) and both RD and ED (n = 14) in 2019, together with 40 healthy (male adults) volunteers as controls. The results showed that ED patients with RD had severe nasal discomfort and decreased erectile function (P < 0.0001). The olfactory sensitivity of patients with ED was lower than that of the controls, and patients with both ED and RD had the worst olfactory sensitivity (P < 0.0001). Spearman correlation analyses showed that sense of smell was positively correlated with the International Index of Erectile Function-5 score (R = 0.507, P ≤ 0.0001) and the Erection Hardness Scale score (R = 0.341, P < 0.0001). Logistic regression analyses showed that having an olfactory disorder (OD), RD, age, and visual analog scale (VAS, over 5) score were risk factors for ED outcome, indicating that OD patients had a 16.479-fold increased risk for an ED outcome (P < 0.05). Conclusion: A significant correlation was detected between olfactory sensitivity and erectile function in adult males. In particularly, impairment of olfactory sensitivity is more common in patients with both ED and RD than in patients suffering from a single disease.
... The impact of loss of olfaction is often underestimated in the general population . Anosmia and hyposmia, respectively defined as the absence of useful olfactory perception or a general decrease in olfactory function, negatively affect quality of life, especially regarding feeding, perception of environmental hazards, as well as social relationships and communication (Croy et al., 2012a, b; Novakova et al., 2012). For example, pleasantness evaluations of common foods, such as banana, are higher in congenital anosmic compared to normosmic subjects (Novakova et al., 2012). ...
... This indicates the occurrence of reduced sensory-specific satiety (Novakova et al., 2012). Moreover, the loss of smell at birth apparently leads to deficits in social interactions, such that congenitally anosmics have fewer sexual partners throughout their life, increased risk of household accidents, and increased risk of depressive symptoms (Croy et al., 2012a, b). Studies in acquired anosmia further underline the importance of the sense of smell in enjoying the eating experience. ...
Article
We review our recent behavioural and imaging studies testing the consequences of congenital blindness on the chemical senses in comparison with the condition of anosmia. We found that congenitally blind (CB) subjects have increased sensitivity for orthonasal odorants and recruit their visually deprived occipital cortex to process orthonasal olfactory stimuli. In sharp contrast, CB perform less well than sighted controls in taste and retronasal olfaction, i.e. when processing chemicals inside the mouth. Interestingly, CB do not recruit their occipital cortex to process taste stimuli. In contrast to these findings in blindness, congenital anosmia is associated with lower taste and trigeminal sensitivity, accompanied by weaker activations within the ‘flavour network’ upon exposure to such stimuli. We conclude that functional adaptations to congenital anosmia or blindness are quite distinct, such that CB can train their exteroceptive chemical senses and recruit normally visual cortical areas to process chemical information from the surrounding environment.
... those born without a sense of smell) has also shown that olfactory dysfunction may lead to different interpersonal deficits for men and women. For example, anosmic women may experience increased social insecurity, while anosmic men report fewer sexual partners [22]. Specifically, this finding might suggest that for women, the effects of olfactory dysfunction may be noticeable on a broader scale (e.g. ...
... those born without a sense of smell) generally includes a wide age range (e.g. 18-50 years [22]). This work shows effects of olfactory dysfunction on adult relationships, possibly up until age 50; thus, there is reason to believe these effects will continue into old age. ...
Article
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Recent work suggests that olfactory dysfunction is a strong predictor of five-year mortality in older adults. Based on past work showing: 1) that olfactory dysfunction impairs social functioning and 2) that social ties are linked with mortality, the current work explored whether impairments in social life mediated the relationship between olfactory dysfunction and mortality. Additionally, based on work showing gender differences in the social consequences of olfactory dysfunction, gender was assessed as a potential moderator of this association. Social network size mediated the olfactory-mortality link for females. To probe what feature of social networks was driving this effect, we investigated two subcomponents of social life: emotional closeness (e.g., perceived social support, loneliness) and physical closeness (e.g., physical contact, in-person socializing with others). Physical closeness significantly mediated the olfactory-mortality link for females, even after controlling for social network size. Emotional closeness did not mediate this link. Possible mechanisms underlying this relationship are discussed.
... Given this multitude of information and apparent importance of this aspect of a human physique, it may be assumed that olfactory sensitivity plays an important role in everyday social functioning. Indeed, studies show that people with anosmia, that is, those without the sense of smell, exhibit a significantly higher level of social insecurity than those with functioning olfaction (Croy et al., 2012(Croy et al., , 2013. Olfactory abilities were also found to relate to self-reported loneliness (Desiato et al., 2020;Sivam et al., 2016) and quantity and quality of social relationships for women (Zou et al., 2016), but not men (Boesveldt et al., 2017). ...
... Lack of this effect was not consistent with our expectations. Previous research has documented detrimental effects of general olfactory impairments on human social life (Croy et al., 2013;Desiato et al., 2020;Sivam et al., 2016). We may thus only speculate as to why anosmia to an important body odor component does not predict a lower self-assessed loneliness. ...
Article
Olfactory deficits can play a detrimental role in everyday social functioning. Perception of 3-hydroxy-3-methylhexanoic acid (HMHA)—a body odor component—could also be linked to this research area. However, no study so far has addressed the problem of HMHA perception in the context of the previously reported relationship between olfactory abilities and social difficulties. Here, we tested whether HMHA-specific anosmia predicted loneliness understood both as a cognitive evaluation of social participation and as one’s social isolation, and we additionally analyzed the effects and correlates of HMHA perception in relation to sightedness. The study comprised 196 people, of whom 99 were blind. We found that subjects with blindness declared particularly high loneliness, but HMHA anosmia and the interaction of sightedness and HMHA anosmia predicted neither loneliness nor social withdrawal. In addition, HMHA pleasantness was positively associated with social withdrawal of the subjects with blindness and emotional loneliness correlated with HMHA familiarity regardless of sightedness.
... For instance, neuroimaging studies found reduced olfactory bulb volume in both depressive patients, and subjects with childhood maltreatment (Croy et al., 2013b;Negoias et al., 2010). The congenital anosmia patients as well exhibited enhanced depression syndromes (Croy et al., 2012;Croy et al., 2013a). In addition, the level of olfactory performance, such as detection acuity was correlated to emotion status of the subject (Hardy et al., 2012;Krusemark et al., 2013). ...
... Last but not least, different types of olfactory disorders, including congenital anosmia may impair the quality of life (QOL), and associated with increased depression scores (Croy et al., 2012;Hummel and Nordin, 2005;Toller, 1999). Interestingly, these patients also exhibited decreased sex-relevant activities (Croy et al., 2013a). It will be important to investigate if restoring olfaction abilities would improve the QOL in at least some of these patients (though not for patients with congenital anosmia, for example). ...
... Indeed, sensing a partner's body odour has a soothing effect (Hofer et al. 2018), at least in individuals with a secure attachment (Granqvist et al. 2019). In fact, olfactory loss, even when undetected, undermines human wellbeing (Oleszkiewicz et al. 2020), including sexuality in men (Croy et al. 2013a;Ottaviano et al. 2013Ottaviano et al. , 2015 and romantic attachment in women (Croy et al. 2013a). Interestingly, body odour is rated as more important for attraction by women (Herz and Inzlicht 2002). ...
... Indeed, sensing a partner's body odour has a soothing effect (Hofer et al. 2018), at least in individuals with a secure attachment (Granqvist et al. 2019). In fact, olfactory loss, even when undetected, undermines human wellbeing (Oleszkiewicz et al. 2020), including sexuality in men (Croy et al. 2013a;Ottaviano et al. 2013Ottaviano et al. , 2015 and romantic attachment in women (Croy et al. 2013a). Interestingly, body odour is rated as more important for attraction by women (Herz and Inzlicht 2002). ...
... Also, the high level of importance attributed to the sense of smell in the context of mate assessment is expected, given the effects of the loss of this modality on human relationships. For example, Croy et al. (2013) reported that anosmia can enhance social insecurity; congenitally anosmic men were found to exhibit significantly fewer sexual relationships, while anosmic women were reported to feel less secure about their partners. ...
Article
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Human attractiveness is a potent social variable, and people assess their potential partners based on input from a range of sensory modalities. Among all sensory cues, visual signals are typically considered to be the most important and most salient source of information. However, it remains unclear how people without sight assess others. In the current study, we explored the relative importance of sensory modalities other than vision (smell, touch, and audition) in the assessment of same- and opposite-sex strangers. We specifically focused on possible sensory compensation in mate selection, defined as enhanced importance of modalities other than vision among blind individuals in their choice of potential partners. Data were obtained from a total of 119 participants, of whom 78 were blind people aged between 16 and 65 years (M = 42.4, SD = 12.6; 38 females) and a control sample of 41 sighted people aged between 20 and 64. As hypothesized, we observed a compensatory effect of blindness on auditory perception. Our data indicate that visual impairment increases the importance of audition in different types of social assessments for both sexes and in mate choice for blind men. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1007/s10508-018-1156-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
... A report of reduced number of lifetime partners in men with congenital anosmia (Croy et al., 2013) has also been interpreted as evidence in favor for a role of olfaction in human sexual attraction. However, anosmia has many consequences (reviewed in Stevenson, 2010) which might explain the reduced number of partners. ...
Article
Sexual attraction has two components: Emission of sexually attractive stimuli and responsiveness to these stimuli. In rodents, olfactory stimuli are necessary but not sufficient for attraction. We argue that body odors are far superior to odors from excreta (urine, feces) as sexual attractants. Body odors are produced by sebaceous glands all over the body surface and in specialized glands. In primates, visual stimuli, for example the sexual skin, are more important than olfactory. The role of gonadal hormones for the production of and responsiveness to odorants is well established. Both the androgen and the estrogen receptor α are important in male as well as in female rodents. Also in primates, gonadal hormones are necessary for the responsiveness to sexual attractants. In males, the androgen receptor is sufficient for sustaining responsiveness. In female non-human primates, estrogens are needed, whereas androgens seem to contribute to responsiveness in women.
... Within the realm of adult attachment (i.e., typically romantic) relationships, people often report smelling their partners' clothing during physical separations to facilitate feelings of closeness (McBurney, Shoup, & Streeter, 2006). Moreover, adults who have lost their sense of smell have fewer social interactions (Boesveldt, Yee, McClintock, & Lundström, 2017), report less sexual satisfaction, as well as decreased felt security within their present relationship (Croy, Bojanowski, & Hummel, 2013). Together, these findings indicate that odor is a vital part of the formation and maintenance of attachment in both young and adult individuals. ...
Article
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When in a stressful situation, access to adult attachment figures (e.g., romantic partners) is an important means by which adults regulate stress responses. The practice of smelling a partner's worn garment is reported as a self-treatment against stress. Here, we experimentally determined whether exposure to a partner's body odor attenuates adults' subjective discomfort and psychophysiological responses, and whether such effects are qualified by adult attachment security. In a blocked design, participants (N = 34) were presented with their partner's body odor, their own body odor, the odor of a clean t-shirt and rose odor, while exposed to weak electric shocks to induce discomfort and stress responses. Results showed that partner body odor reduces subjective discomfort during a stressful event, as compared with the odor of oneself. Also, highly secure participants had attenuated skin conductance when exposed to partner odor. We conclude that partner odor is a scent of security, especially for attachment-secure adults.
... Cela peut s'exprimer par une vulnérabilité émotionnelle (Smeets et al., 2009), et peut se traduire par de l'agressivité (Keller and Malaspina, 2013). Il arrive aussi que cela engendre des troubles dans leurs relations sexuelles, se traduisant par une baisse du nombre des rapports (Hufnagl et al., 2003;Croy et al., 2013). Ces effets sont encore mal connus, et pas forcément systématiques, car ils peuvent être modulés par de nombreux facteurs. ...
Thesis
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Lorsque l’odorat est altéré (dysosmie), c’est notre sécurité, notre santé, et aussi notre équilibre émotionnel qui s’en trouvent affectés. Cette thèse de doctorat apporte de nouveaux éléments de compréhension sur le déficit olfactif, au travers de : (1) Sa prévalence, en particulier avec l’âge, et ses conséquences sur la santé alimentaire. (2) La remédiation des capacités olfactives, à l’aide d’un d’entrainement olfactif contextualisé. 5 études, combinant des approches psychophysiques et neurobiologiques chez des patients dysosmiques (odorat dysfonctionnel) et normosmiques (odorat normal), ont été menées. Nous montrons que la prévalence des déficits olfactifs en France est de plus d’une personne sur 10, et plus d’une personne sur 5 après 60 ans. Dans une société vieillissante, cela est préoccupant, car nous montrons que ces déficits sont reliés à des changements du comportement alimentaire, susceptibles d’affecter l’équilibre nutritionnel (donc la santé). Nous avons ensuite exploré l’effet d’un entrainement olfactif sur la perception olfactive de patients. Il apparait que la présence de stimuli non olfactifs (images et labels) pendant l’entrainement améliore l’efficacité de ce dernier, via une facilitation, pendant l’encodage, de l’activation de la trace mnésique de l’odeur. En conclusion, les résultats de cette thèse renforcent l’idée qu’il est possible de remédier aux déficits olfactifs en modulant la représentation mentale d’objets olfactifs via des éléments contextuels de ces mêmes objets. Nous formulons alors des recommandations adressées particulièrement aux personnes âgées (très touchées par ce déficit), aux institutions qui les encadrent, et à leurs entourages
... Different studies observed various effects of olfactory dysfunction, including increased or decreased BMI (Patel et al. 2015;Fluitman et al. 2019), decreased number of sexual relationships in males and decreased perceived relationship security in women (Croy et al. 2013), impairments in professional life (Temmel et al. 2002;Brämerson et al. 2007), and reduced health-related quality of life (Neuland et al. 2011). ...
Article
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Introduction Olfactory function is known to be impaired in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) as well as in subjective cognitive decline (SCD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which are generally considered at-risk states for developing AD. The aim of the study at hand was to identify predictors of self-reported olfaction capability (SOC), self-reported capability of perceiving specific odors (SRP), olfaction-related quality of life (ORQ), and odor identification (OIT) in patients with SCD, naMCI, and aMCI. Methods The sample consisted of 33 patients with SCD, 88 with naMCI, and 43 with aMCI who consulted the Department of Neurology, Medical University of Vienna, due to memory complaints between January 2001 and May 2018. Olfactory function was assessed objectively by means of the Sniffin’ Sticks odor identification test (OIT) and subjectively by means of the ASOF-scores SOC, SRP, and ORQ at two to three points in time, with an average time interval of 39 months between the first and second examination, and 24 months between the second and third examination. Linear mixed models were used in order to identify clinical and demographic variables as predictors of mean SOC, SRP, ORQ, and OIT throughout the observation period. Results There was a statistically significant — albeit small — time-related decline of SOC and ORQ in the SCD group but not in other groups. Throughout the observation period, estimated ORQ was significantly higher in the SCD group than in the naMCI and estimated OIT was significantly higher in the naMCI group than in the aMCI group after adjusting for time of measurement and other covariates. Positive relationships between OIT and all three ASOF-scores, negative relationships between BDI-II and SOC and ORQ, and a positive relationship between WST-IQ and SRP were identified. Conclusion There is a statistically significant, albeit small, time-related decline of uncertain clinical relevance in subjective measures of olfactory capability and olfaction-related quality of life in patients with SCD. Implications In all subgroups, objectively measured odor-identification scores have a significant impact on subjective scores over time. The study at hand confirms previous observations regarding the negative influence of depression on subjective perception of olfactory capabilities known from cross-sectional studies.
... Smell and taste play a primary role in the survival of many species of invertebrates and vertebrates, including humans [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]. Olfactory and gustatory information allows animals to locate and choose food, identify predators, select a partner for mating, mother-infant recognition and to avoid potentially harmful situations [9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17]. ...
Article
Olfactory function varies by several orders of magnitude among healthy individuals, who may exhibit a reduced sensitivity (hyposmia), a high sensitivity (hyperosmia), or an olfactory blindness (anosmia). Environmental and genetic factors seem to account for this variability. Most of odorant molecules are hydrophobic and it has been suggested that odorants are transported to the olfactory receptors by means of odorant binding proteins (OBPs). Aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of a relationship between the olfactory performance of healthy subjects and the polymorphism in the odor binding-protein (OBPIIa) gene, the only OBP found in the olfactory epithelium of humans. Using the "Sniffin' Sticks" Extended Test we assessed the olfactory performance in 69 subjects, who were genotyped for the rs2590498 polymorphism of the OBPIIa gene, whose major allele A has been associated with a higher retronasal perception as compared to the minor allele G. We found that subjects homozygous for the A-allele exhibited threshold scores higher than subjects homozous for the G-allele or heterozygous. In addition, subjects classified as normosmic and hyposmic differed on the basis of genotype distribution and allelic frequencies. In fact, a normosmic condition was associated with genotype AA and allele A and a hyposmic condition was associated with genotype GG and allele G. In conclusion, our results show that a relationship exists between the physiological variations of olfactory performance and the OBPIIa gene polymorphism.
... Moreover, losing one's sense of smell generates substantial disruption of social interactions and sexual behavior [17][18][19], which is an indirect proof of the importance of olfaction in social interactions. ...
Article
There is increasing evidence that human body odor is involved in interpersonal communication. However, among the wide variety of substances excreted by the human body that might act as chemosignals, much attention has been granted to androstenes to the detriment of other categories. Here, we focused on the acidic fraction of human body odor. We investigated men and women's perceptual descriptions and detection thresholds of the sexually dimorphic (male) compound 3-hydroxy-3-methylhexanoic acid (HMHA) in two contrasted cultures, France and Madagascar. Perceptual responses to HMHA in both countries were very similar. HMHA proved to be more typical of body odor than another chemically-related major compound of human body odor 3MHA (3-methylhex-2-enoic acid also known as 3M2H). A significant portion of the samples studied (between 8 and 19%) was likely to be anosmic to HMHA (and to 3MHA: 25%). Although differences would be expected between men and women's perceptual responses to HMHA, based on the assumption that this compound would have a function in human partner choice, no sex differences were found for any of the perceptual variables. However, in Malagasy women, perceived intensity of HMHA was higher in participants who were in the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle. Whether HMHA is relevant in the perception of a potential partner thus requires further explorations, with more implicit approaches for example and/or by investigating the repercussions of HMHA specific anosmia on interpersonal relationships.
... Gudziol et al. 24 demonstrated a significantly reduced sexual appetite as a consequence of OD. Moreover, Croy et al. 25 demonstrated that men born without a sense of smell described a reduced number of sexual relationships. ...
Article
Introduction: Olfactory dysfunction (OD) is a frequent medical condition which might determine an important reduction of the patient’s quality of life (QoL). The analysis of OD-related QoL may play an important role in clinical practice since the patient’s perspectives may influence clinical decisions and could be used to monitor the longitudinal course of individual outcomes. Evidence acquisition: Only a limited number of specific instrument able to evaluate OD-related QoL have been proposed so far and their clinical application is limited. The aim of this review was to analyze the available instruments useful for OD-related QoL measurement in order to increase clinicians’ awareness of OD and their ability to evaluate its impact. Evidence synthesis: The Questionnaire of Olfactory Disorders (QOD) is the more widely used but its internal consistency is poor. The Importance of Olfaction Questionnaire demonstrated a good internal consistency but no information regarding its reliability are available. The Self-Administered Odor Questionnaire (SAOQ) demonstrated satisfactory clinical validity and responsiveness to changes but no information regarding its internal consistency and reliability are available. The Scandinavian adaptation of the Multi-Clinic Smell and Taste Questionnaire (MCSTQ-Sc) appears too time consuming. Finally, the Modified Short version of the QOD (MS-QOD) demonstrated satisfactory internal consistency, optimal test re-test reliability and satisfactory discriminant and convergent validity. Conclusions: There is a need for a psychometrically robust, time- and cost-efficient, easy-to-use instrument to be used in everyday clinical practice for the evaluation of the impact of OD on patient’s QoL
... The same gender effect was found in congenital anosmic patients. Men born without a sense of smell described a reduced number of sexual relationships (Croy et al. 2013). Problems in " working life " have been reported by 8% (Temmel et al. 2002) up to about one-third of the patients (Bramerson et al. 2007), depending on the question asked. ...
Article
Olfactory disorders are common and affect about one-fifth of the general population. The main causes of olfactory loss are post viral upper respiratory infection, nasal/sinus disease, and head trauma and are therefore very frequent among patients in ear, nose, and throat clinics. We have systematically reviewed the impact of quantitative, qualitative, and congenital olfactory disorders on daily life domains as well as on general quality of life and depression. From the extensive body of literature, it can be concluded that loss of the sense of smell leads to disturbances in important areas, mainly in food enjoyment, detecting harmful food and smoke, and to some extent in social situations and working life. Most patients seem to deal well and manage those restrictions. However, a smaller proportion has considerable problems and expresses a noticeable reduction in general quality of life and enhanced depression. The impact of coping strategies is discussed.
... In other words, we propose that humans are smelling themselves also as part of a matching-mechanism in social interaction. Indeed, we propose that it is the loss of this ability that may underlie part of the social difficulties associated with congenital anosmia [53,54]. ...
Article
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All primates, including humans, engage in self-face-touching at very high frequency. The functional purpose or antecedents of this behaviour remain unclear. In this hybrid review , we put forth the hypothesis that self-face-touching subserves self-smelling. We first review data implying that humans touch their faces at very high frequency. We then detail evidence from the one study that implicated an olfactory origin for this behaviour: This evidence consists of significantly increased nasal inhalation concurrent with self-face-touching, and predictable increases or decreases in self-face-touching as a function of subliminal odourant tainting. Although we speculate that self-smelling through self-face-touching is largely an unconscious act, we note that in addition, humans also consciously smell themselves at high frequency. To verify this added statement, we administered an online self-report questionnaire. Upon being asked, approximately 94% of approximately 400 respondents acknowledged engaging in smelling themselves. Paradoxically, we observe that although this very prevalent behaviour of self-smelling is of concern to individuals, especially to parents of children overtly exhibiting self-smelling, the behaviour has nearly no traction in the medical or psychological literature. We suggest psychological and cultural explanations for this paradox, and end in suggesting that human self-smelling become a formal topic of investigation in the study of human social olfaction. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Olfactory communication in humans’.
... Temmel et al. (2002) reported disruption of patients' marital, sexual, and social relationships as a consequence of olfactory loss. Moreover, Croy et al. (2013) argued that anosmic patients feel socially insecure, because many social signals are transmitted via the olfactory channel. Altogether, individuals with olfactory dysfunction report a wide range of social burdens. ...
Article
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Individuals differ in disgust-related personality traits, such as disgust proneness (DP: tendency to experience disgust), disgust sensitivity (DS: tendency to perceive one’s own disgust experiences as difficult to control), and self-disgust (SD: strong dislike/aversion of yourself). Olfaction is one crucial input for the disgust system. The present study investigated disgust dispositions in individuals with persistent olfactory dysfunction. We studied 16 male patients with anosmia, 20 patients with hyposmia, and 20 normosmic men, and compared DP, DS, and SD scores between the groups. Dysosmic patients reported lowered DP toward spoilage, elevated DP toward poor hygiene, and elevated SD. There were no group differences with regard to DS. We assume that difficulties of perceiving one’s own body odor and resulting challenges for personal hygiene are related to domain-specifically elevated trait disgust. Enhanced personal disgust may be related to a general social insecurity in people with olfactory malfunction. Future research should additionally use brain imaging methods to investigate associations between alterations of the disgust system and olfactory dysfunction.
... ref. 8 and 9) and individuals who are ill or feel unwell tend to limit their social interactions. In addition, a recent survey amongst members of the Fifth Sense, a British patient organization of people suffering from olfactory loss, reported that 59% of respondents have issues with social interactions 10 ; also, people with congenital anosmia exhibit social insecurity, resulting for example in a decreased number of sexual contacts 11 . Taken together, data from a range of various sources exists that indicate a link between the sense of smell and the ability to maintain a vital social life. ...
Article
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Social factors play a critical role in a panoply of health processes, including, as recently demonstrated, olfaction. Here, we investigated sex-dependent differences in the relationship between social lives and ability to identify odors in a large sample of nationally representative older US adults (n = 3005, National Social Life and Aging Project (NSHAP)). Social life was measured by the number of friends and close relatives as well as frequency of socializing. We here confirm the association between social lives and olfactory function and extend the notion by showing specifically that olfactory identification ability is modulated by sex in older adults. The connection between olfactory performance and social lives could reflect social modulation of aging as has been reported for health in general. Future studies are necessary to elucidate the precise mechanisms underlying this association and sex difference.
... Anosmia enhances social insecurity but the consequences depend on sex. Men declare fewer sexual relationships while women feel less secure about their partner [5]. Furthermore, the inability to perceive body odour precludes anosmic patients a wide variety of social-relevant information, such as emotional conditions of others, e.g. ...
Article
Olfactory perception has implications for human chemosensory communication and in a broader context, it affects well-being. However, most of the studies investigating the consequences of olfactory loss have recruited patients who have already been categorized as having a dysfunctional sense of smell and sought help in an ENT clinic. We revisit these findings by distinguishing subjects with olfactory impairment from a group of subjects who all declared a normal sense of smell when enrolling for this study. In the initial sample of 203 individuals, we found 59 to have impaired olfaction and four with marginal olfactory performance, not useful in daily life. Interestingly, we found a significant between-group difference in cognitive functioning, further supporting the notion of the relationship between cognition and olfactory performance. However, their chemosensory communication and well-being appeared not to be different from subjects with normosmia. Impaired olfactory function certainly has a severe impact on daily life but more so in individuals who are bothered with it and decide to seek treatment. The limited-to-no olfactory perception in the fraction of subjects who neither complain about it nor seek help in ENT clinics does not seem to have a major effect on their social, cognitive, emotional and health functioning. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Olfactory communication in humans’.
... Our sense of smell is central to many aspects of life and health. It is important for alerting us to potential danger (e.g., smoke, chemicals, spoilt food) or orienting us towards pleasant stimuli (e.g., food, flowers) as well as for social and intimate relationships (Croy et al., 2013;Keller and Malaspina, 2013;Lundstrom et al., 2013). Losing the sense of smell, therefore, has serious implications for quality of life, physical safety and relationships, and is often associated with depression and social isolation (Miwa et al., 2001;Sivam et al., 2016). ...
Article
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Diagnosis of FTD, especially the behavioural variant, is challenging because of symptomatic overlap with psychiatric disorders (depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder). Olfactory dysfunction is common in both FTD and psychiatric disorders, and often appears years before symptom onset. This systematic review analysed 74 studies on olfactory function in FTD, depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to identify differences in olfactory dysfunction profiles, focusing on the most common smell measures: odour identification and discrimination. Results revealed that FTD patients were severely impaired in odour identification but not discrimination; in contrast, patients diagnosed with schizophrenia showed impairments in both measures, while those diagnosed with depression showed no olfactory impairments. Findings in bipolar disorder were mixed. Therefore, testing odour identification and discrimination differentiates FTD from depression and schizophrenia, but not from bipolar disorder. Given the high prevalence of odour identification impairments in FTD, and that smell dysfunction predicts neurodegeneration in other diseases, olfactory testing seems a promising avenue towards improving diagnosis between FTD and psychiatric disorders.
... Olfactory disorders have extensive impacts on the lives of patients and can cause serious problems (Croy et al., 2014;Hosseini et al., 2020). Head trauma is one of the major causes of olfactory malfunctions (Howell et al., 2018) and many people lose their olfaction due to head trauma related to accidents every day (Croy et al., 2013). However, there is not a gold standard treatment for olfactory impairments (Pekala et al., 2016a). ...
Article
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The present study investigated if and how the smell training scheme affects resting‑state effective connectivity. We focused on connectivity among brain regions that participate in olfactory‑related processes, including the piriform cortex, amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), insula, and cingulate cortex. Sixteen patients with posttraumatic olfactory dysfunctions between the ages of 18 and 36 years participated in this study. Olfactory performance of subjects was evaluated using the Sniffin' Sticks test kit and then, resting‑state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed. Of the 16 participants, 8 underwent olfactory training for 16 weeks and the remaining 8 did not receive the treatment (the control group). After 16 weeks, participants in both groups underwent the same procedure (smell testing and the MRI examination). Olfactory performance scores were compared between groups using an independent samples t‑test. Spectral dynamic causal modeling was applied to resting‑state fMRI data to identify alterations in effective connectivity due to the smell training. We found that patients in the treatment group improved in the odor discrimination task and overall olfactory function as compared to the control group. Compared to the control group, patients in the treatment group had increased self‑inhibitory connectivity of the OFC and increased excitatory connectivity from the cingulate cortex to the insula. Moreover, the excitatory connectivity from the OFC to the cingulate cortex was found to be weaker following the olfactory training scheme. This study shows that a smell training scheme can cause changes in resting‑state effective connectivity parameters that can be attributed to improvements in the odor discrimination task.
... The impact that smell loss has on relationships is strong, simply imaging failing to detect one's own bad body odor and how this will immediately affect the people in the vicinity. Taking this negative outcome a step forward, smell loss can affect sexual relationships and mate choice in people, especially for those with congenital anosmia (Philpott and Boak 2014;Croy et al. 2013;Schäfer et al. 2019). Having no or reduced ability in reading the social world through the lens of olfaction can severely affect attachment, limit the ability to "read a room," and the strategies used to initiate emotional regulation, associated with the experience of having an invisible illness. ...
Article
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The human sense of smell is still much underappreciated, despite its importance for vital functions such as warning and protection from environmental hazards, eating behavior and nutrition, and social communication. We here approach olfaction as a sense of well-being and review the available literature on how the sense of smell contributes to building and maintaining well-being through supporting nutrition and social relationships. Humans seem to be able to extract nutritional information from olfactory food cues, which can trigger specific appetite and direct food choice, but may not always impact actual intake behavior. Beyond food enjoyment, as part of quality of life, smell has the ability to transfer and regulate emotional conditions, and thus impacts social relationships, at various stages across life (e.g., prenatal and postnatal, during puberty, for partner selection and in sickness). A better understanding of how olfactory information is processed and employed for these functions so vital for well-being may be used to reduce potential negative consequences.
... Perhaps unsurprisingly given what we have seen in this review, those who do not have a functional sense of smell (due to congenital anosmia) have been shown to have anomalous interpersonal relationships (as a result of increased social insecurity; Croy et al., 2013). Given the long-lasting chemosensory impairments reported by many of those who contract Covid-19 (Carfi et al., 2020;Gallagher, 2020) there may be serious, if as yet unacknowledged problems. ...
Article
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In recent decades, there has been an explosion of research into the crossmodal influence of olfactory cues on multisensory person perception. Numerous peer-reviewed studies have documented that a variety of olfactory stimuli, from ambient malodours through to fine fragrances, and even a range of chemosensory body odours can influence everything from a perceiver’s judgments of another person’s attractiveness, age, affect, health/disease status, and even elements of their personality. The crossmodal and multisensory contributions to such effects are reviewed and the limitations/peculiarities of the research that have been published to date are highlighted. At the same time, however, it is important to note that the presence of scent (and/or the absence of malodour) can also influence people’s (i.e., a perceiver’s) self-confidence which may, in turn, affect how attractive they appear to others. Several potential cognitive mechanisms have been put forward to try and explain such crossmodal/multisensory influences, and some of the neural substrates underpinning these effects have now been characterized. At the end of this narrative review, a number of the potential (and actual) applications for, and implications of, such crossmodal/multisensory phenomena involving olfaction are outlined briefly.
... Gerüche können auch signalisieren, ob potenzielle Partner genetisch zueinander passen [10]. Bei Patienten mit erworbenen oder angeborenen Riechstörungen finden sich entsprechend erhöhte soziale Unsicherheit [11] und vermindertes sexuelles Verlangen [12,13]. ...
Article
The origins of the sense of smell lie in the perception of environmental molecules and go back to unicellular organisms such as bacteria. Odors transmit a multitude of information about the chemical composition of our environment. The sense of smell helps people and animals with orientation in space, warns of potential threats, influences the choice of sexual partners, regulates food intake and influences feelings and social behavior in general. The perception of odors begins in sensory neurons residing in the olfactory epithelium that express G protein-coupled receptors, the so-called olfactory receptors. The binding of odor molecules to olfactory receptors initiates a signal transduction cascade that converts olfactory stimuli into electrical signals. These signals are then transmitted to the olfactory bulb, the first relay center in the olfactory pathway, via the axons of the sensory neurons. The olfactory information is processed in the bulb and then transferred to higher olfactory centers via axons of mitral cells, the bulbar projection neurons. This review describes the mechanisms involved in peripheral detection of odorants, outlines the further processing of olfactory information in higher olfactory centers and finally gives an overview of the overall significance of the ability to smell.
... All of these effects of AND presumably occur after detection and processing via the main olfactory system, given the absence of a functional accessory olfactory system in humans. One report (Croy et al., 2013) suggested that men who were anosmic from birth onwards (due to 'isolated congenital anosmia', which does not include the hypogonadism associated with Kallmann syndrome) had fewer sexual partners than age-matched control men. By contrast, women with isolated congenital anosmia reported feeling 'less secure' about their male partners compared with age-matched control women. ...
Article
Most mammalian species possess two parallel circuits that process olfactory information. One of these circuits, the accessory system, originates with sensory neurons in the vomeronasal organ (VNO). This system has long been known to detect non-volatile pheromonal odorants from conspecifics that influence numerous aspects of social communication, including sexual attraction and mating as well as the release of luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland. A second circuit, the main olfactory system, originates with sensory neurons in the main olfactory epithelium (MOE). This system detects a wide range of non-pheromonal odors relevant to survival (e.g., food and predator odors). Over the past decade evidence has accrued showing that the main olfactory system also detects a range of volatile odorants that function as pheromones to facilitate mate recognition and activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal neuroendocrine axis. We review early studies as well as the new literature supporting the view that the main olfactory system processes a variety of different pheromonal cues that facilitate mammalian reproduction.
... Loss of the sense of smell may result in social insecurity. Men with anosmia reported fewer sexual relationships in their life, whereas women with anosmia were reported to feel less secure about their partners (Croy et al., 2013). The results of the current study further corroborate this line of investigation by demonstrating that, besides vision, the sense of smell is reported to be important by individuals without auditory input, as well as their fully functional counterparts in both mating and non-mating social contexts. ...
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Social perception is a multimodal process involving vision and audition as central input sources for human social cognitive processes. However, it remains unclear how profoundly deaf people assess others in the context of mating and social interaction. The current study explored the relative importance of different sensory modalities (vision, smell, and touch) in assessments of opposite- and same-sex strangers. We focused on potential sensory compensation processes in mate selection (i.e., increased importance of the intact senses in forming impressions of an opposite-sex stranger as a potential partner). A total of 74 deaf individuals and 100 normally hearing controls were included in the study sample. We found diminished importance of vision and smell in deaf participants compared with controls for opposite- and same-sex strangers, and increased importance of touch for the assessment of same-sex strangers. The results suggested that deaf people rely less on visual and olfactory cues in mating and social assessments, highlighting a possible role of sign language in shaping interpersonal tactile experience in non-romantic relationships.
... This importance is highlighted in studies with populations with a compromised sense of smell. For example, people with a scant sense of smell have fewer social interactions (Boesveldt et al., 2017), report lower sexual satisfaction (Ottaviano et al., 2013), and feel less secure about their current relationship (Croy et al., 2013a). Furthermore, men with rhinologic diseases (e.g., nasal polyps, rhinosinusitis, and allergic rhinitis) complain of reduced erectile function, which improves significantly after treatment (Deng et al., 2020). ...
Article
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Previous studies have shown that olfactory function plays an essential role in the bonding of a romantic relationship. Body odors, in particular, seem involved in both mate choices and other intimate behaviors. Our sense of smell is also crucial to detect possible pathogen threats, by activating a suitable disgust reaction. Previous studies have shown that disgust sensitivity is negatively related to sociosexuality, and disgust generally inhibits our sexual drive. In the present study, we explored the possible relation between olfactory function, pathogen disgust sensitivity, sociosexuality, sexual well-being, and infidelity through a web survey. Our exploratory analyses found that, in a large Italian sample (N = 1107), among those in a stable relationship, self-reported olfactory function predicted sexual well-being (p < .05) and negatively predicted infidelity (p < .05) when controlling for other relevant sociodemographics variables. Moreover, the relation between self-reported olfactory function and sexual well-being was mediated by pathogen disgust sensitivity. Although significant, these results must be interpreted with caution, because the effect sizes were small.
Article
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Olfaction plays an important role to detect environmental risk, taste the food, and performs various additional roles crucial to the nutrition, mood and memory. But it has been overlooked compared with other sensory organs, such as vision or hearing function. Recently, a variety of studies associated with olfactory system are in progress from periphery to central area. This review shows the brief summary of the recent ongoing study on olfaction.
Article
Olfaction is an important medium of social communication in humans. However, it is not known whether olfactory function is associated with social network size. This study aimed to explore the underlying neural mechanism between olfactory function and social network. Thirty-one healthy individuals participated in this study. Social network size was estimated using the Social Network Index. Olfactory function was assessed with the Sniffin’ Stick Test. The results showed that there is a significant positive correlation between the size of an individual’s social network and their olfactory sensitivity. We also found that amygdala functional connectivity with the orbitofrontal cortex appeared to be related to olfactory sensitivity and social network size.
Chapter
In everyday life, odorous sensations are a multisensory experience. In other words, odors are perceived before, during, or after inputs of other sensory systems like the visual, gustatory, auditory and tactile system. Thus, multisensory processing of olfactory cues should be assumed as a realistic stimulation for the perception of odors. Odors are perceived through two main pathways: orthonasal and retronasal routes and odors are processed in a different manner depending on the pathway. Therefore, before reviewing effects of other sensory cues on olfactory perception, both orthonasal and retronasal olfactory systems are discussed at psychophysical, cortical electrophysiological and neuroanatomical levels. This chapter introduces cross-modal correspondence between olfactory and other sensory cues; it also features the effects of other sensory inputs, such as visual, gustatory, auditory, trigeminal and tactile cues, on olfactory perception, with a focus on key modulators in cross-modal integration. Overall, most of the cross-modal integration between olfactory and other sensory cues appears to occur at a central nervous level. Many studies have emphasized the role of congruency between bimodal cues in cross-modal integration. The modulatory effect of congruency was found to be influenced by many factors such as odor delivery route (orthonasal and retronasal pathways), selective attention, experience (associative learning), cultural background, type of given task (analytical versus synthetic) and characteristics of a given stimulus.
Chapter
Olfactory loss is frequent. However, in public not many people complain of that, or they are even not (fully) aware of it. This indicates that it is possible to live a life without a sense of smell, albeit it is more dangerous, less pleasant, and food tastes much less interesting. Most common causes for smell loss are sinunasal disease (chronic rhinosinusitis with and without nasal polyps), acute infections of the upper airways, head trauma, and neurodegenerative disorders. In many people smell loss seems to be due to the aging process. Before treatment olfactory disorders are diagnosed according to cause with the medical history being a big portion of the diagnostic process. Olfactory disorders are in principle reversible, with a relatively high degree of spontaneous improvement in olfactory loss following infections of the upper respiratory tract. Medical treatment is according to cause. It also involves surgical approaches as well as conservative treatments including the use of corticosteroids, antibiotics, or smell training. Because today olfactory dysfunction seems to receive more attention than in previous years it can be expected that tomorrow we will have more specific and effective treatment options available.
Chapter
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Humans are traditionally considered to have a poorly developed sense of smell that is clearly inferior to that of nonhuman animals. This view, however, is mainly based on an interpretation of neuroanatomical and recent genetic findings, and not on physiological or behavioral evidence. An increasing number of studies now suggest that the human sense of smell is much better than previously thought and that olfaction plays a significant role in regulating a wide variety of human behaviors. This chapter, therefore, aims at summarizing the current knowledge about human olfactory capabilities and compares them to those of animals.
Article
Background: Olfactory dysfunction is highly prevalent in dementia syndromes, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The structural integrity of the olfactory bulb (OB) is thought to play a critical role in odor detection and identification, but no MRI study has measured OB volume in FTD, or measured OB volume longitudinally in AD. Objective: To measure OB volume in FTD and AD patients longitudinally using MRI. Methods: This study measured OB volumes using MRI in patients diagnosed with behavioral-variant FTD (n = 55), semantic dementia (n = 34), progressive non-fluent aphasia (n = 30), AD (n = 50), and healthy age-matched controls (n = 55) at their first visit to a dementia research clinic ('baseline'). Imaging data in patients 12-months later were analyzed where available (n = 84) for longitudinal assessment. Volumes of subcortical and cortical olfactory regions ('olfactory network') were obtained via surface-based morphometry. Results: Results revealed that in AD and FTD at baseline, OB volumes were similar to controls, whereas volumes of olfactory network regions were significantly reduced in all patient groups except in progressive non-fluent aphasia. Longitudinal data revealed that OB volume became significantly reduced (10-25% volume reduction) in all dementia groups with disease progression. Conclusion: Olfactory dysfunction is common in patients diagnosed with AD or FTD, but our results indicate that there is no detectable volume loss to the OBs upon first presentation to the clinic. Our findings indicate that the OBs become detectably atrophied later in the disease process. OB atrophy indicates the potential usefulness for OBs to be targeted in interventions to improve olfactory function.
Article
Reduced olfactory function is associated with altered trait disgust in men. This study sought to determine whether hyposmic women show similar changes in disgust responsiveness. We compared patients with hyposmia (25 men, 23 women) and 50 normosmic individuals (25 men, 25 women) with regard to their tendency to experience disgust across different disgust domains (disgust proneness), their self-disgust and their tendency to perceive their own disgust feelings as difficult to control and embarrassing (disgust sensitivity). We replicated the finding that male patients reported elevated self-disgust and disgust proneness toward a specific disgust domain (poor hygiene), whereas female patients obtained comparable disgust scores as the female control group. Both men and women of the patient group indicated disgust regulation difficulties in social contexts. In conclusion, we found greater changes in trait disgust in men with hyposmia. This gender-specific effect, which might be a result of more efficient compensatory behaviors in women, needs further investigation. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
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Introduction Olfaction is a highly emotionally charged sense and contributes to our quality of life, which olfactory impairment or dysosmia thus strongly impacts. The aim of the present study was to examine how olfactory deficits alter eating behavior, which is a pillar of health and well-being. Methods Patients with quantitative smell impairment and control participants were asked to perform a series of chemosensory tasks: odor identification and ratings of odor intensity, pleasantness, familiarity, irritation, and edibility. They also filled out a detailed food questionnaire. Results Results showed significant decrease in olfactory function in smell-impaired patients. Although no significant consequences of dysosmia were found for most aspects of food preferences and culinary habits, the patients were less attracted than controls by novel foods and tended to experience less pleasure when eating. They also used significantly more condiments such as sugar, mayonnaise, or sour cream to make their dishes tasty. Conclusions Olfactory impairment has a clear effect on certain aspects of eating behavior. Implications These findings highlight the compensatory mechanisms that go along with dysosmia. This also reflects the patients’ attempts to restore part of the lost flavor and its hedonic component through non-olfactory cues.
Chapter
Olfaction (sense of smell), from evolutionary perspective is one of the most ancient chemical senses by Auffarth (Neurosci Biobehav Rev 37(8):1667–1679, 2013, [1]), however, they remain in many ways the least understood of the sensory modalities. This chapter presents the general review of this very important chemical sense.
Article
Objective: To evaluate associations between self-perceived chemosensory functions of smell, taste, and flavor perception with olfactory-specific quality of life (QoL) in patients with olfactory dysfunction (OD) and whether these associations would be influenced by other factors, such as duration or etiology of smell loss. Study design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting: Tertiary care, academic center. Methods: Olfactory-specific QoL was measured with the Questionnaire of Olfactory Disorders (QOD). The QOD measures the impact of OD on QoL (QOD-negative statements) and the ability of patients to cope with smell loss (QOD-positive statements). Orthonasal olfactory function, patients' demographics, self-perceived chemosensory perception, and duration and etiology of OD were retrospectively collected in a cohort of patients with quantitative OD. Correlations and multivariable linear regression models were computed to determine possible associations with the outcome measure of QOD-negative and QOD-positive statement scores. Results: A total of 133 patients with OD were included. Analysis revealed a positive correlation between self-perceived taste and flavor perception with QOD-negative statement scores, while self-perceived smell showed no significant correlation. Similarly, longer duration of smell loss and higher age were also correlated with higher QOD-positive statement scores. Multivariable regression models confirmed that self-perceived taste was independently associated with the QOD-negative statement score, while age and duration of OD were independently associated with the QOD-positive statement score. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the impact of diminished flavor perception during eating and drinking has a stronger impact on the QoL of patients with OD as compared with decreased orthonasal olfaction.
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The sense of smell essentially contributes to social communication, guides nutrition behaviour and elicits avoidance towards environmental hazards. Olfactory smell impairment may hence entail severe consequences for affected individuals. Compared with sensory loss in other modalities, reduced olfactory function is often unnoticed by those affected and diagnosed late. Those patients seeking help frequently suffer from long-term impairments resulting in reduced well-being and quality of life. The current review provides an overview of aetiology, prevalence and specifics of diagnostics in acquired and congenital olfactory loss and focusses on short- and long-term consequences. Compensation strategies are elaborated, and treatment options are mentioned. Individual characteristics associated with the development of serious mental health impairment are discussed in order to help practitioners identifying populations at risk.
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Olfactory impairment is one of the more unique symptoms of COVID-19 infection, and has therefore enjoyed increased public attention in recent months. Olfactory impairment has various implications and consequences ranging from difficulty detecting dangerous pathogens to hindering social functioning and social behaviours. We provide an overview of how olfactory impairment can impact three types of close social relationships; family relationships, friendships and romantic relationships. Evidence is divided into several categories representing potential mechanisms by which olfactory impairment can impact close social relationships: bonding disruptions, decreased social support, missed group-eating experiences, hygiene concerns, and altered sexual behaviours. We conclude with a discussion of emerging future research questions.
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Odours modify human behaviour. Research in this field develops rapidly, providing more and more exciting discoveries. In this context, our daily odorous environment has been surprisingly poorly explored. The aim of our study was to quantify olfactory perception and preliminarily identify factors affecting the frequency of odorous experiences. We were also interested in knowing whether human olfactory ecology relates with olfactory performance. In this study, patients with olfactory deficits (n = 62) and healthy controls (n = 97) had their olfactory threshold and odour identification abilities measured before and after a two-week intervention comprising counting of conscious perception of odours naturally occurring in the environment. In both groups, we observed enhanced olfactory performance after the intervention suggesting that (1) the conscious focus on odours may change its perception, and that (2) social and physical environment can effectively stimulate the human olfactory system, presumably supporting the improvement of olfactory sensitivity.
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Androstenol has been reported to influence judgements of attractiveness and to affect participants’ mood. In the present study, participants were asked to sniff androstenol or a control odour (pure ethanol) unilaterally with the left or right nostril. Subsequently, they rated the attractiveness of photographs of the opposite sex and their own feelings on four mood scales. Participants rated the photographs as significantly more attractive after sniffing androstenol compared with the control odour. This did not depend upon androstenol being perceived as pleasant. Androstenol made male participants feel more lively, and both male and female participants more sexy, when sniffed through the right compared with the left nostril. Participants rated themselves as more irritable and aggressive when exposed to androstenol through the left nostril. The findings are discussed in relation to the effects of arousal on attraction and in the context of current theories of hemispheric differences in emotion.
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The aim of this review is to present direct and indirect lines of converging evidence that highlight the many ways our body odors and sense of smell may influence the three broad stages of romantic relationships; initiation, maintenance and breakdown. This emerging area of study requires a multidisciplinary empirical approach. Here we survey research findings that taken together, suggest that body odor perception moderates mate choice, provides a source of comfort in existing relationships and may signal the breakdown of a relationship through disgust processes. In terms of olfactory ability, having a good sense of smell may facilitate identifying a healthy mate, enhance sexual experiences, relationship security and ensure empathic responsivity, predictors of relationship longevity. We therefore conclude that olfaction plays an important – yet understudied – role in romantic relationships.
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Clinical experience shows that the individual significance of olfactory function varies between subjects. In order to estimate these individual differences we developed a questionnaire to study the subjective importance of the sense of smell. Questions were arranged within three subscales: association with olfactory sensations, application of the sense of smell, and the readiness to draw consequences from the olfactory perception. The questionnaire was shown to be time efficient, suitable for normosmic subjects and patients with hyposmia or anosmia. It exhibited a good internal reliability (Cronbach's Alpha = 0.77). First results in 123 subjects indicate that the subjective importance of the sense of smell stays at the same level throughout life-span despite of a decreased olfactory sensitivity. Furthermore, women reported a higher importance of olfaction. It is hoped that this questionnaire will contribute to clarify, for example, cross-cultural differences in the perception of odours.
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The study aimed to create a screening test on the basis of the odor identification test as used in the "Sniffin' Sticks" olfactory test kit. It should appeal to the practitioner in terms of 1) time required for testing, 2) reliability, 3) separation of "normal" from "abnormal," and 4) the fact that it allows lateralized screening. Experiments should provide a normative database (number of subjects > 1,000), establish test-retest reliability (n > 100), and compare results from patients with olfactory loss (n > 200). The correlation between results on 2 repetitive tests was .78. The test differentiated anosmics, hyposmics, and normosmics (p < .001). None of the 112 anosmics reached a score higher than 8; the 90th percentile was at a score of 6. When only 6 odors were used for calculating scores, for anosmics the 95th percentile was at a score of 4. These data provide a basis for the screening of patients by means of "Sniffin' Sticks."
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For chemosensory event-related potentials (ERP) significant effects of age and sex have been demonstrated. The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of stimulus concentration, side of stimulation, and sex on the topographical distribution of chemosensory ERP in a large group of subjects stratified for different age groups. In addition, psychophysical measures of both olfactory and trigeminal function should be assessed in greater detail compared to previous work. A total of 95 healthy subjects participated in the study. Olfactory functions were tested using the 'Sniffin' Sticks' comprising tests of odor identification, odor discrimination, and odor threshold. Trigeminal sensitivity was assessed on a psychophysical level using a lateralization paradigm. ERP to the olfactory stimulant H2S and the trigeminal irritant CO2 were recorded; stimuli were presented in different concentrations to the left and right nostril. Olfactory thresholds exhibited an age-related increase while the outcome of psychophysical trigeminal tests was not significantly affected by age. In contrast, there was no significant main effect of the factor 'sex' for olfactory tests, while women scored higher than men in the trigeminal task. ERP to olfactory and trigeminal stimuli exhibited a relationship to stimulus concentration, age, and sex with youngest women showing largest amplitudes and shortest latencies. There was no significant main effect of left- or right-sided stimulation on ERP. Measures of olfactory function were found to correlate with parameters of olfactory ERP even when controlling for the subject's age. In addition, correlations between scores in the lateralization task and parameters of the trigeminal ERP were found. Based on electrophysiological data obtained in a large sample size the present results established an age-related loss of olfactory and trigeminal function, which appears to be almost linear. Further, the present results emphasize that responses to chemosensory stimuli are related to sex, while the side of stimulation does not play a major role in the presently used paradigm. Finally, these data establish the lateralization paradigm as a psychophysical tool to investigate intranasal trigeminal function. The present results obtained in a representative group of healthy subjects establishes a comprehensive set of data, which will serve as reference for future work in this area of research.