New studies has indicated, that activating the visual cortex improves our sense of smell. This has been achieved by studying the various cortex’s within the brain, and in this case by stimulating the visual cortex with small electrical pulses.
Our senses consist of smell, taste, touch, hearing and sight. These senses are separated into areas of the brain. However, when we look at the world, our brain uses a combination of these cortex’s in order to gain a more coherent interpretation of what we are experiencing.
Up until now, it has not been understood exactly how these areas of the brain specifically relate to one another. But by identifying the characteristics of the sense of smell and it’s reaction when another area is stimulated (in this case, the visual cortex), it is becoming more clear that the brain’s separate functions of senses are in fact interconnected more so than previously thought.
Synesthesia, is a condition that many people experience, whereby the senses are automatically crossed over, or appear confused. For example; people claim to smell words, or see numbers as colors. Therefore, this study confirming that activating the visual cortex improves our sense of smell, suggests that we may all have crossed senses to a certain degree. It can be said therefore, that synesthesia is a condition within everybody. It is just on a scale more sensitive or active in others.
It is also interesting to note, that the study showed no evidence of connections between hearing and smell, indicating that vision has a predominant effect on the enhancement of other senses within the cortex’s of the brain. Therefore focusing on an object visually, that has a scent, in the case of food or a flower for instance, may infact improve our appreciation of the smell more. Studies are being carried out to explore any further possibilities.