"I Have't in My Nose Too"

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					                                                                                                    News From the Field          987

       DEPTH PERCEPTION                        direct estimates of distance, but only         formed would have been based on
                                               when observers looked vertically               at least three of the senses: vision,
Emotional Arousal                              down at a target from a balcony;               olfaction, and taste (!). Here, our in-
Interacts With Depth                           similar estimates were unaffected by           terest lies with olfaction. It has been
Perception                                     arousal when the observers looked              understood since antiquity that dif-
Stefanucci & Storbeck (2009). Don’t look       horizontally “down” a hallway. In              ferent diseases have different smells
down: Emotional arousal elevates height per-   addition, Stefanucci and Storbeck              and that olfaction might be a useful
ception. JEP:G, 138, 131.
                                               showed that emotional arousal mod-             tool in diagnosis. Olfaction’s poten-
   Emotional arousal is known to               ulated the perception of height more           tial extends beyond the obvious (e.g.,
influence a wide variety of higher-            than emotional valence (positive vs.           a decayed tooth) to diseases like lung
level cognitive functions, such as             negative) did, and that the effects of         and breast cancer. Indeed, a few years
attention, memory, judgment, and               emotional arousal could be ampli-              ago, there was a flurry of interest in
decision-making, but relatively little         fied when observers were instructed            the ability of trained dogs to detect
research has investigated the effects          to personalize the pictures. Overall,          cancer. We will omit the joke about
of emotional arousal on lower-level            these findings indicate that nonper-           the “cat scan” and the “lab test.” The
processes, such as the perception of           ceptual, emotion-based variables can           dogs’ olfactory decisions were ex-
distance. This gap may seem surpris-           influence our perceptions, although            tremely accurate.
ing to anyone who has ever peered              at the present time it is unclear ex-             The dogs were trained to respond
at the ground from a great height,             actly how emotional information in-            to the smell of cancer. Now a new ar-
for as many of us know, feelings of            teracts with perceptual information            ticle in Nature suggests that evolution
fear and anxiety often accompany               within the visual system. More im-             figured this out long before human
such experiences. What effects do              portantly, these findings suggest that         medicine. Riviere et al. found that
these emotional states have on one’s           the
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Olfaction's potential extends beyond the obvious (e.g., a decayed tooth) to diseases like lung and breast cancer. Riviere et al. found that various rodents expressed genes on olfactory receptors for a set of molecules related to disease and immune function.
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