Scientists have long known that humans react subconsciously to some scents in ways we may not understand, such as how pheromones – scents which we do not consciously register – can attract us to our mate.
What they haven’t fully appreciated until now, though, is that impending death has it’s own scent – and our noses know it, even if we aren’t conscious of it.
Perhaps you’ve had a relative or friend who seemingly knew it was about to be their time – now science can explain why and how they knew.
A study conducted by Arnaud Wisman from the University of Kent’s School of Psychology and Ilan Shrira from the Department of Behavioral Sciences in Arkansas’ Tech University shows that there may be solid evidence that they were able to detect that they were dying – through scent!
As we die, the body breaks down, and one scent released by the process is putrescine. Even if we do not consciously recognize the scent, we subconsciously do – and our body’s natural response is to move away, as Wisman and Shrira were able to prove in their work.
Wisman and Shrira conducted a series of four different experiments, each using putrescine, ammonia and water. Study participants were exposed to the chemicals, and their reactions to the scent were recorded. When exposed to the putrescine, the immediate response was to move away from the area. The participants did not recognize the scent, nor were they aware that they had responded in a negative manner.
“People are not familiar with putrescine and do not consciously associate it with death or fear,” the two researchers explained.
As Wisman writes on his University of Kent website, “Scents can communicate many things such as danger, whether something is edible, whether a partner is suitable, and even how others feel. Interestingly, the latest research suggests that humans too, can communicate various emotions such as fear and stress via scent.”
Clearly, more study is needed – but what an interesting finding! In the future, you may recognize when death approaches…by its scent!
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