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Are People With Sensitive Noses More Empathetic?

Are you cursed and blessed with a good sense of smell? Cursed because you smell every ungodly stink no matter how far away, and blessed because lovely smells affect you deeply?

Psychology professor Denise Chen at Rice University thinks you may also be more empathetic than your olfaction-challenged neighbor.

Sense of smell and emotions come from the same area of the brain (the limbic system), and Chen set out to test their connection. In an experiment with 22 pairs of dorm-dwelling women, Chen asked them all to sleep in identical t-shirts. The next morning, she presented each person with three t-shirts: one worn by her roommate, and two others worn by other people in the dorm. The women who were able to identify their roommates' t-shirts by smell alone also scored high in emotional tests.

"The olfactory brain overlaps with the emotional brain," said Chen, "and is believed to have contributed to its evolution." Do you have a good sense of smell or wish you did?

Image Source: Getty
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