Compassion arises in the nose

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Compassion arises in the nose

Odour transmitted anxiety and triggers empathic response from

How do we realize that a different person is afraid? Not only the facial expression or what is said but also by how this man smells. Scientists have found that the smell of fear sweat in our brain specific reactions of pity and fear detection triggers. Thus, the evidence demonstrates that even people communicate chemically. Until such research were before only from the animal kingdom.

Compassion arises in the nose

Odour transported messages


If we are afraid, we often begin to sweat more. And this welding has it all: It contains compounds that act as chemical signals and trigger with fellow reactions in the brain. A working group led by the psychologist Professor Bettina Pause of the University of Dusseldorf has now for the first time demonstrated that anxiety is actually transmitted through the odor between two people. Here the fear smell must not be consciously perceived.

Sweat-sniffing as an experiment

The psychologists participated by students before making important academic examinations "sweat samples". For this, the volunteers had to wear before the test cotton pads under the arms for fifteen minutes. In addition, welding samples were taken from the same persons during exercise.

The collected samples were prepared and presented by means of an olfactometer other subjects. An olfactometer is a technical device that subjects odor molecules presents at constant temperature and flow conditions. The smells were of the
Study participants perceived as very weak, only half of the presentations was even aware of smell. During this presentation smell the brain activity of the subjects were derived using a magnetic resonance imaging.

Fear odor activates emotion centers

The results were clear: in the presentation of "fear" those areas of the brain were among the subjects actually enabled, in which an emotional mirroring the feelings of others is taking place and which are specialized in the perception of fear expressions on other people. These are the insular cortex, the cingulate and the fusiform cortex.
The presentation of sport sweat, however did not cause significantly measurable reactions.

"This means that fear, if it is perceived odor, contagious and affects the perceiver empathic witnessing triggers," said Pause. So far explored only in animals, seems proved that even people communicate via chemical signals. - Albeit unconsciously.

(University of Dusseldorf, 14.07.2009 - NPO)


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Fear smell sweat compassion empathy brain chemical messenger signals pheromone scent smell Biology Communication Psychology

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