Neuroscience: Smells affect sight

    Article metrics

    Cited research: Curr. Biol. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2010.05.059 (2010)

    For humans and other primates, sight tends to dominate sense of smell; often what we see affects what we smell. Researchers have found evidence that the opposite may also be true: olfaction can influence visual perception.

    Wen Zhou, at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, and her colleagues showed volunteers two images, one of a rose and one of marker pens. The volunteers viewed the images through special glasses so that each eye saw a different image at the same time, although the volunteers were aware of only one image at a time. They were also exposed to odorants that smelled like either roses or pens.

    The volunteers reported seeing the rose for longer periods of time when sensing the rose smell, and a similar bias when smelling the pens. The authors also show that the effect is partly subconscious. C.L.

    Rights and permissions

    Reprints and Permissions

    About this article


    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.