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We Each Live in Our Own Little World -- Smell

slo1
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8/2/2013 8:09:21 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
We Each Live in Our Own Little World -- Smellwise
http://www.sciencedaily.com...

There are some smells we all find revolting. But toward a handful of odors, different people display different sensitivities -- some can smell them, while some can't, or some find them appealing, while others don't. A pair of studies appearing online on August 1 in the journal Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, now identifies the genetic differences that underpin the differences in smell sensitivity and perception in different individuals.

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"We were surprised how many odors had genes associated with them. If this extends to other odors, then we might expect everyone to have their own unique set of smells that they are sensitive to. These smells are found in foods and drinks that people encounter every day, such as tomatoes and apples. This might mean that when people sit down to eat a meal, they each experience it in their own personalized way," says Jeremy McRae.

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So, which are the genes that determine our ability to perceive certain odors? McRae and colleagues found that the genetic variants associated all lie in or near genes that encode so-called odorant or olfactory receptors. The odorant receptor molecules sit on the surface of sensory nerve cells in our nose. When they bind a chemical compound drifting through the air, the nerve cell sends an impulse to the brain, leading ultimately to the perception of a smell.
In the case of ^6;-ionone, the smell associated with violets, McRae and colleagues managed to pinpoint the exact mutation (a change in the DNA sequence) in the odorant receptor gene OR5A1 that underlies the sensitivity to smell the compound and to perceive it as a floral note -- people who are less good at smelling ^6;-ionone also describe the smell differently, as sour or pungent, and are less likely to find it pleasant.
slo1
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8/2/2013 8:18:35 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
It is amazing to me how unique we are finding each individual is.

I'll be honest, I used to have a chip on my shoulder about people who are picky eaters. It would irritate me going to lunch at work and having a severely limited option of bland basic food because there was someone who was picky.

A few years back I realized that I pretty much eat anything, probably because I have a horrible sense of smell.

That is when it dawned on me that there probably is a close genetic relationship to smells and those we find pleasant and repulsive. I have wiped that chip off my shoulder, although, I do think that repetition with something mildly repulsive often eases up to become tolerable or even enjoyable. Picky eaters you are not off the hook yet.