HEALTHY LIVING

Sense Of Smell Can Be Improved With Training, Study Says

11/21/2011 05:08 pm ET | Updated Nov 21, 2011

It's well-known that resistance training can increase muscle mass and that reading has been shown to improve brain function. Now, a new study published in Nature Neuroscience suggests that one's sense of smell can also be improved through training.

The news comes after researchers at NYU's Langone Medical Center reported that they were able to train lab rats to better distinguish smells and to become familiar with different smell combinations after "repeated exposures and rewards," according to Scientific American.

The findings of the study could even aid in advancing scientific understanding of the relationship between the sense of smell and disorders like Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia, according to lead researcher Donald Wilson, who spoke with the International Business Times.

"First, it suggests that the sense of smell, which seems like a much simpler process that seeing or hearing, is actually a very dynamic, complex system," Wilson told told the paper in an email. "Second, it suggests that perhaps some of the smell problems associated with disease may be helped with appropriate smell training."

But the whole of the scientific community is not yet convinced the study will have any near term affect on the treatment of these conditions or other degradation of patients' sense of smell. Honorary secretary of the British Association of Otorhinolaryngologists Andrew McCombe said he's not holding his breath for any immediate applications for the training.

"Whilst interesting research, I am not sure it's going to suddenly lead to a significant change in the way we treat loss of sense of smell which sadly is usually permanent and complete when it happens," McCombe told the BBC.

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