Scientists confirm that women can smell better than men

Don’t worry ladies: we might not be getting paid at the same level as men, but there is one thing we can feel smug about. Scientists have just confirmed that we can smell better than the opposite sex.

For years, women have been outperforming men on odour-perception tests but scientists weren’t sure why that was. Now they think they might have a better idea. Researchers from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the University of São Paulo, the University of California, San Francisco, and the Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo used a technique called the isotropic fractionator which allows biologists to measure the number of cells in a particular part of the brain.

Normally this would be a daunting task, considering our brains contain hundreds of millions of different types of cells. But using this method, which changes brain structures containing different properties into more stable, homogeneous solutions so the cell nuclei can be counted, makes it a lot easier to quantify cells in a specific region.

The olfactory bulb in the brain is the part of the body where smell is first processed, so the researchers, led by Professor Roberto Lent, counted the number of cells there in post-mortem brains from seven men and 11 women. All were over 55 when they died, had been neurologically healthy, and weren’t known to have an unusually good sense of smell.

The researchers found that women have an average of 43% more cells in this area than men. This correlates with previous studies showing that women have more sensitive noses than men, although until now it wasn’t known if the cause was biological.

Because we develop few new cells as we grow up, it seems likely that we’re born this way. But scientists still don’t know what accounts for the gender difference. They speculate that it might be a due to women’s need to bond with their children to ensure the survival of the human race. Maybe that’s true, or maybe it’s just so that we can appreciate Taylor Swift’s Wonderstruck.

Image via Pixabay.

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Diane Shipley