Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

"I Have't in My Nose Too"

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

"I Have't in My Nose Too"

Article excerpt

OLFACTION

Riviere et al. (in press). Formyl peptide receptor-like proteins are a novel family of vomeronasal chemosensors. Nature.

In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, the question of one character's sanity arises. Another character suggests that they should "Carry his water to the wise woman." His water is his urine and the wise woman is, we may presume, the best diagnostician in the neighborhood. The Elizabethan urinalysis that she would have performed would have been based on at least three of the senses: vision, olfaction, and taste (!). Here, our interest lies with olfaction. It has been understood since antiquity that different diseases have different smells and that olfaction might be a useful tool in diagnosis. Olfaction's potential extends beyond the obvious (e.g., a decayed tooth) to diseases like lung and breast cancer. Indeed, a few years ago, there was a flurry of interest in the ability of trained dogs to detect cancer. We will omit the joke about the "cat scan" and the "lab test." The dogs' olfactory decisions were extremely accurate. …

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