ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2012) — Anxious people have a heightened sense of smell when it comes to sniffing out a threat, according to a new study by Elizabeth Krusemark and Wen Li from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.
In animals, the sense of smell is an essential tool to detect, locate and identify predators in the surrounding environment. In fact, the olfactory-mediated defense system is so prominent in animals, that the mere presence of predator odors can evoke potent fear and anxiety responses.
Smells also evoke powerful emotional responses in humans. Krusemark and Li hypothesized that in humans, detection of a particular bad smell may signal danger of a noxious airborne substance, or a decaying object that carries disease.
Their work is published online in Springer’s journal Chemosensory Perception. The study is part of a special issue of this journal on neuroimaging the chemical senses.