Noam Sobel, a neuroscientist of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and his colleagues have found that each individual has a personal sense of smell and that this distinctive perception of odors can help identify his/her identity. According to the team, although the sense of smell is similar among humans, there is a 30 percent difference in the way two people detect scents. The team developed a test called the “olfactory fingerprint” in which 89 subjects were asked to rated how strongly 28 odors such as clove or compost matched 54 adjectives such as “nutty” or “pleasant.” They found that the responses were so diverse that just 7 odors and 11 descriptors would have been sufficient to identify each of the 89 individuals based on their sense of smell. Thus, the researchers estimate that with 34 odors, 35 descriptors, it would be possible to identify the entire human population. Interestingly, they also found that people with similar olfactory fingerprints also showed similarity in their genes for immune system proteins linked to body odor and mate choice. Sobel believes that the test could someday be used to construct smell-based social networks.
Read more in ScienceNews.