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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Two Nostrils: Sensing and Competing

It is fairly obvious why we have two eyes and two ears. We use a form of triangulation to determine direction and distance. Models in the brain fit the data and make useful conclusions. But why two nostrils? It has been suggested that binary smell was a holdover from when smell was much more important in sensing food and danger.

A new study is overviewed in Mind Hacks and in the NYTimes, suggesting that there is a competition between the two nostrils and their neural wiring which switches between them and has them compete to come to olfactory based conclusions. How might this kind of research be used commercially? Smell has always been problematical in the difficulty of focusing it to an application. You can spritz an area full of aroma, but focusing and removing it is harder. Research like this could lead to better understanding of how the nonsconscious aspects of smell can be leveraged. Previously here about smell.

Abstract of scientific article.

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