Books et al.Neuroscience

Context is key to olfaction

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Science  31 Jul 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6503, pp. 514
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc6831

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Summary

In her debut book, Smellosophy: What the Nose Tells the Mind, A. S. Barwich melds a philosophical perspective with a rich history of olfactory science, tackling big questions with layers of perceptual, psychological, and neurobiological explanations. She argues that olfaction does not reflect objective reality but rather a mental construct with modest relation to the chemical objects in the world. She synthesizes disparate lines of evidence in consideration of this argument, and along the way she embeds her philosophy in a larger narrative of how our current understanding of smell evolved from earlier beliefs and expectations.

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