Physical and Cognitive Limitations on Olfactory Processing in Human Beings

  • William S. Cain


Chemical communication via natural secretions is thought to play at best a minor role in the lives of human beings, but a major role in the lives of many other species. It is unlikely that the primary reason for this difference lies strictly in the realm of sensory functioning. Even if man is not the most sensitive creature on earth his sensitivity is nonetheless remarkable and undoubtedly rivals that of many other animals. Furthermore, electrophysiological evidence suggests that there is considerable similarity in olfactory reception throughout the vertebrates (Döving, 1966; Döving and Lange, 1967; Köster and MacLeod, 1975). Accordingly, the study of man’s sense of smell may teach much about olfaction in other vertebrates.


Recognition Memory Difference Threshold Cognitive Limitation Odor Identification Odor Quality 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • William S. Cain
    • 1
  1. 1.John B. Pierce Foundation LaboratoryYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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