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The Science of Smell

How the brain detects smells and why understanding the unique biology of the smell system has paved the way for people paralysed with spinal injuries to walk again

Pamela Rutherford explores our neglected sense of smell. How is the brain able to detect and tell apart the countless number of smells it comes across and what happens when the system goes wrong? She finds out how people can lose their sense of smell and why it’s the very strong associations between smell and memory that allow your sense of smell to come back. Not only can people lose their sense of smell and become ‘anosmic’ but in rare cases they can hallucinate smells, so called phantosmia. But why does it happen? Also in the programme why the unique biology of the smell system has led to an amazing medical breakthrough and paved the way for reversing paralysis in people with spinal injuries.

Image: Smelling the Roses, Getty Images

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27 minutes

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