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1) Jane studied the sense of smell because
1. she had always been interested in it.
2. it was part of her course.
3. she found it easy to understand.

2) The sense of smell used to be important for
1. identifying danger.
2. finding food.
3. encourage eating.

3) Jane thinks that people react to smells
1. sensibly
2. logically
3. emotionally

4) All The smell of autumn can
1. make everyone feel depressed.
2. bring back memories.
3. remind people that winter days are dark.

5) Perfume companies use different marketing techniques to
1. sell an image.
2. make people feel good.
3. create associations.

6) What is special about the sense of smell?
1. It makes things more memorable.
2. It changes when we eat food.
3. It is the most enjoyable sense.

7) The speaker’s favourite smell is because of
1. family holidays.
2. exciting travel.
3. a sense of belonging.

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Interviewer: So we’re here for the third programme in our series ‘It Makes Sense’ – when we investigate the five senses of hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling – this week the sense we are going to be talking about is smell. I have with me Jane Stone, who has just published a series of articles on how our senses affect our daily lives – Jane, welcome to the programme.

Expert: Thanks – nice to be here.

I: Jane, how did you become an expert on smell?

E: Well – I didn’t intend to specialise in it, and of course I do write about all the senses, but when I was at university studying them – there was a module on the course – the other senses seem to be more concrete somehow, easier to be precise about, but smell is so personal. I found it fascinating.

I: You said in one of your articles that smell is actually the sense we rarely use now – at least for anything important. Is that right?

E: It certainly is – it used to be rather more vital to us than it is now. You see, smell is linked to survival and it’s actually quite useful in that way – more than you might think. After all – if food smells bad than that tells you that food has gone off – or is dangerous – we can instantly recognise a poisonous food. And of course it tells us when it’s nice to eat too! That’s a really vital use of the sense in the animal world, but not so much for people in the modem world. We can trust our food manufacturers, I hope!

I: Let’s hope so! But it’s more complicated than that, surely.

E: Of course it is. Our sense of smell is still actually very important – but not so much for identifying danger as for social reasons. You see, we respond to smells sensitively – with our feelings, not with logic or even with common sense – but we don’t all respond to the same smell in the same way. How we respond depends on the emotional associations we have with that particular scent.

I: What do you mean by that?

E: For instance, the smells of autumn may create happy memories for one person, but the same smell could make another person unhappy. This could be if it makes them think of cold, dark winter days, or something bad that happened to them in winter once.

I: They’re natural smells – what about artificial ones?

E: It’s not really very different. Perfumes can bring back both good and bad memories – and they can be very emotional memories, too. The perfume manufacturers are well aware of this – they have very good marketing techniques which they use all the time. They know all about associations people have with smells – we’ve all got a favourite perfume, because it reminds us of something nice, or just because it makes us feel good – and they use that. Of course they are selling an image as well – one that’s tied up with the lifestyle the particular brand of perfume suggests.

I: And they are expensive too! Maybe that’s part of the marketing. But do you have any other interesting information to give us about smells? Or anything different about the sense of smell?

E: Well – let’s see – did you know that it’s harder to forget smell than to forget facts? Or, putting it another way, we remember smells longer? There have been experiments where people could pick out a particular smell thirty days after smelling it for the first time.

I: That’s interesting! So smells bring back more memories than – say – music?

E: That seems to be the case.

I: But then what happens if you lose your sense of smell – when you have a cold, for instance?

E: Well, smell is actually linked to taste — we smell the food at the same time as we taste it and this is how we get the flavour of food. When we eat, our mouths and noses work together – and that’s why when you have a cold, you lose your sense of taste as well. People who lose their sense of smell permanently as a result of an injury or illness feel that life doesn’t have many pleasures – after all, we all enjoy eating!

I: So, what’s your favourite smell?

E: Oh, I have lots of different ones – the smell of the sea reminds me of happy family holidays, and the smell of roses makes me think of my friends’ house. Strangely enough, I like the smell of aircraft fuel at airports – then I know I’m going to fly somewhere exciting! But it’s the general smell of my garden in the rain that I really like the most – that means I’m at home where 1 should be. I enjoy smelling different things and I think I’d be very unhappy without my sense of smell.

I: Jane, thank you for talking to us. Next week we’ll talk about sight. But now we move to…

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