Friday, 4 November 2011

Illusion of Smell (Olfactory Illusion)

 B Premanand

Every object that we smell throws of molecules, which are wafted by air towards the approximately ten million olfactory cells that comprise the sensitive nerve endings situated on the roof of both nostrils. Each odor, of varying molecular size and shape, stimulates a specific pattern amongst the receptor cells. These cells use an electrical charge to dispatch the information to the olfactory lobe in the brain, where smell is eventually registered and interpreted.

We scent every single thing we consume, whether through the nostrils or by the rear access to the nasal opening at the back of the throat. Roast beef, salmon and cabbage, for example, rely for taste almost entirely on their aroma. When next you eat any of these, hold your nose before the food come too close to your mouth. Then place the food on your tongue. It will be tasteless. Inhale through your nostrils, however, and its taste will return. This is because the combination of smell and taste results in flavor.
A mock hypnotic stunt used on stage involves the hypnotizer showing a red and a green apple to his victim before blindfolding him. He is then told to pinch his nose and guess from the taste which apple he has been offered. In fact, the performer cuts a slice from a potato. Not only is the victim unable to guess the truth, but he actually swallows the potato before his error is drawn to his attention.

The most intriguing demonstration of how smell can affect taste involves eating an apple as you hold a more pungent pear beneath your nostrils. The smell of the pear will obliterate that of the apple to such an extent that the flesh of the apple you eat will assume the flavour of a pear.

Experiment – 12

Effect: Making each volunteer smell the soap which he uses.

Props: A bottle of any perfume spray, pieces of paper, pencil.

Method: Spray a bit of any perfume on your index finger so that only very little of the perfume can be smelt when you take a deep breath. Call a volunteer and have him write down the name of the soap he uses regularly. Ask him to close his eyes, recite the name of the soap mentally without pausing, simultaneously taking deep breaths in and out as he concentrates on the perfume of the soap. Take the bit of paper with your perfumed index finger on top of it and bring it closer and closer to the nose of the volunteer asking him whether he can smell his brand of soap. When he gets the smell from your finger due to breathing in, he will say he indeed smells the soap which he uses.

This illusion is created because each volunteer is concentrating on the smell of his soap, and any slight smell, makes them say that it is the smell of the soap which they use.


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