When it comes to training your brain, your sense of smell is probably the last thing you would think would strengthen it. Learning a new language, reading more books, and not posting on social media are all good things. Your nose?
The olfactory system undergoes adult neurogenesis, which is one reason for its adaptive responsiveness. During child development, humans grow new olfactory neurons every three to four weeks. The sensory neurons in your nose pick up airborne chemicals and send activity signals to the core of the brain. If it weren’t for this ongoing regeneration of sensory cells in your nose, we wouldn’t detect smells after our first few colds.
One of the most plastic systems in your brain is the olfactory system. The brain can adapt to changes in the environment or neural damage. Stimulating the brain strengthens existing neural structures and adds fuel to the brain’s capacity to remain adaptive, thereby keeping it young. Your smell system is very good at repairing and renewing. For example, olfactory cells have been used in human transplant therapy.
Recent studies show that differences in smell processing in the brain correspond with olfactory abilities. Johannes Frasnelli, an olfactory scientist at the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivires, explained that there is a link between the thickness of the cortex and the gray matter layer. People with better perceptual capacities have a thicker cortex. When they looked at people who had lost their sense of smell, they also saw a reduction of cortical matter in areas involved in odor processing.
As we get older, our sense of smell weakens. The regeneration of olfactory neurons slows down as you get older. The process of regeneration continues. It is possible to increase your brain’s plasticity by training your nose. Increasing your sensitivity to odors in the environment is not always desirable. The smell of urine in the metro, the smell of a person walking in front of you, and the smell of a person’s body odor are all negative. The benefits of paying more attention to the smells around you are not limited to a greater enjoyment of food aromas.
A classification task was the first task. The participants had to order the odors from lowest to highest concentration. An identification task was the second. The participants were presented with a target odor and a specific ratio of scent. They were given the same blend in different ratios and asked to order it according to quality. Was the learned target odor present in a range of 14 samples of different odor mixtures or not? Is it possible to change the structure of your brain by smelling things? Frasnelli’s group discovered that intense olfactory training results in structural changes in some parts of the brain.
The improvement in olfactory performance was the result of intense olfactory training. The increase of olfactory skill was not restricted to the training exercises but also transferred to other olfactory abilities that had not been tested as part of the training. The tests included the detection threshold of an odor, accuracy in odor discrimination, Cued odor identification, and even free odor identification. During the six weeks, the entire exercise was done for 20 minutes each day. The responses were evaluated on their speed and accuracy.
What you can see in the world is dependent on the depth of your cognitive engagement with your senses. Your mind is not a product of some remarkable, intricate twists performed by the brain. Your brain can be trained to do things. Cognitive training of the senses is like strength in that it builds the brain.
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