How we learn smells through experience

When we close our eyes and think of Christmas, the smell of vanilla crescents, cinnamon, punch, oranges or the needle scent of the Christmas tree immediately rises up in us. Ass.Prof. Dr. Klaus Dürrschmid, Head of the Laboratory for Sensory Analysis and Consumer Science at the Institute of Food Science, explained why this on Friday, Dec. 3 in the Ö1 programme series "Punkt eins" with the title "An der Nase herumgeführt?"

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This is because smells reach the limbic system "without detours", the part of the brain that is relevant for the evaluation of impressions and the processing of feelings and memories. What we smell is therefore always and much more directly and strongly connected with emotions than all other sensory impressions - with measurable physical reactions that cannot be controlled voluntarily. Moreover, the sense of smell is the only one that is largely learned through experience.

This is why the thought of mulled wine in May and Christmas stollen in August evokes the opposite reaction in us. If you want to learn more about this and get in the olfactory mood for Christmas, we recommend the hybrid lecture "So schmeckt Weihnachten!" by Klaus Dürrschmid on 17 December, 19:00-20:30 at the Planetarium Wien: