If You Know Where Your Keys Are, You're Likely Good at ID-ing Smells, Too

Contributing Editor

If you’re the person who always knows where the passports, holiday decorations, and keys are, chances are high you’re also great at identifying odors, says a new study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Researchers from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, built upon a recent theory that humans evolved a sense of smell to help navigate the world. They hypothesized that there must then be a connection between navigation and olfaction. They asked 57 participants to explore a virtual city for 20 minutes, mapping routes between landmarks. Then, they had the group identify 40 different scents, ranging from basil to strawberry to cinnamon.

The team used structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to view regions of the brain known to be related to olfaction and spatial memory and found that participants who were good at both tended to have a larger right hippocampus (an area of the brain involved in long-term memory) and a thicker left mOFC (an area of the brain critical to sense of smell).

Source: Nature Communications