Apparently humans can determine the age group of a person by smell, sharing a common characteristic of the animal kingdom. This has been outlined in a new study published in PLoS (Public Library of Science) ONE. The research has also thrown up some interesting age-related findings in terms of who smells the most: the young or the old?
The research was undertaken at the Monell Chemical Senses Center
in Philadelphia. The researchers were seeking to see if the way that animals use smells could be replicated with people.
For the research, as Eureka
indicates, special pads were sewn into the underarm area of T-shirts to collect body odor from male and female subjects. The T-shirts were worn at night whilst the subjects slept and the same T-shirt was worn for five consecutive nights. When the results were collected, the subjects were divided into three age groups: young (20–30 years old), middle-aged (45–55 years old), and elderly (75–95 years old).
The pads were then handed to another subject group, who were asked to smell the pads. This group were then asked to guess the age of the wearer and assess how unpleasant the odor was.
Medical News Today
notes that the results indicated that the subject group who did the ‘sniffing’ could place the pad into the correct age group, which indicated that the three age groups tended to smell differently. When asked to assess how unpleasant each odor was the conclusion was that the smells from the old-age group were less offensive than the other two.
Not only can people sense the age group of a person from their body odor, there are also subtle similarities for people of the same family.
The study was led by Susanna Mitro and the research paper
was titled “The Smell of Age: Perception and Discrimination of Body Odors of Different Ages.”