Why do we get used to smells?

Your nose might be hiding things from you about familiar smells.

4th June 2014
Why do we get used to smells? (iStock)

Asked by: Paul Mellor, St Albans

Our nervous system has evolved to become progressively less sensitive to a stimulus, the longer it persists. This enables us to concentrate on the newest sensations that are more likely to be an opportunity or a threat. We also have an olfactory memory that discards smells that we have experienced recently. This means that you don’t notice the smell of your house when you come home from work, but it smells strange when you come back from holiday.

 


Get more fascinating Q&As from BBC Focus magazine by following @sciencefocusQA

You are currently reading: Why do we get used to smells? - 4th June