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The smell of fear

December 6, 2008
clipped from www.guardian.co.uk

The smell of fear is real, say scientists

Solum, Stian Lysberg/AFP/Getty

The smell of fear, one of the most terrible cliches of pulp fiction, is founded in fact, scientists claim today.

People can unconsciously detect whether someone is stressed or scared by smelling a chemical pheromone released in their sweat, according to researchers who have investigated the underarm secretions of petrified skydivers.

the smell of fear triggered a heightened response in brain regions associated
with fear when inhaled by volunteers in a brain scanner
humans can detect and subconsciously respond to pheromones released by other
people
brain regions associated with fear – were more active in people who breathed in
the “fear” sweat compared with the control
were unable consciously to distinguish between the two
The findings will be controversial because most researchers do not believe that
humans can detect pheromones
that a fear pheromone could be developed as a chemical weapon is scientifically
implausible
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