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It's Official: Women's Sense of Smell Better than Men

Update Date: Nov 06, 2014 02:31 PM EST
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Women have better sense of smell compared to men, thanks to a greater count of olfactory neurons in the brain.

A new research which counted neurons in the brains of seven men and 11 women found that women on average have 43 percent more olfactory neurons. The post-mortem examination of brains was done using an isotropic fractionator which helps accurately count the number of cells, Daily Mail reported. In specific cases, the difference exceeded 50 percent.

Studies done in the past have shown similar results but left questions pertaining to social and cognitive ability unanswered which the present study seeks to addresses by arguing that sex differences in olfactory detection may play a role in differentiated social behaviors and may be connected to one's perception of smell, which is naturally linked to associated experiences and emotions. Thus, women's olfactory superiority has been suggested to be cognitive or emotional, rather than perceptual.

Researchers also pointed out that women may be born with greater olfactory senses as few new cells are added to the brain throughout life.

"Generally speaking larger brains with larger numbers of neurons correlate with the functional complexity provided by these brains. Thus, it makes sense to think that more neurons in the female olfactory bulbs would provide women with higher olfactory sensitivity," said Prof. Roberto Lent from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in a press release.

The next stage is to determine responsible factors for women's greater olfactory cell count, why women evolved to have a greater sense of smell and whether a link exists between superior sense of smell and reproductive behaviour.

The study's findings have been published in PLOS One

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