Research by Wesson and Wilson
The smound concept is based on a study done by Daniel Wesson, PhD and Donald Wilson, PhD, researchers at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research (NKI) in New York.
The study, which was published in The Journal of Neuroscience, traced extracellular recordings from the olfactory tubercles of anesthetized mice. They found that 65% of single tubercle units responded to odours and 19% responded to auditory tones. When the tubercles were subjected to both odour and tone, 29% displayed supraadditive or suppressive responses. The authors of the study have suggested that this shows some cross-modulation between the two senses.
Scientific American has suggested that the results of this study could have a major impact on the study of synesthesia. The researchers plan to patent a device for sniffer dogs which would link inhaled scents with a sound, making the operations of these animals more efficient and effective.
History of the concept
The idea that sounds and scents may be linked in the brain was suggested in 1862 by G. W. Septimus Piesse, who said, "Scents, like sounds, appear to influence the olfactory nerve in certain definite degrees." Piesse also suggested that there may be an octave of odour.
- Nathan S Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Staff List, accessed 25 February 2010
- Journal of Neuroscience Smelling Sounds: Olfactory–Auditory Sensory Convergence in the Olfactory Tubercle Daniel W Wesson and Donald A Wilson, 24 February 2010, accessed 25 February 2010
- Scientific American, Making scents of sounds Lynne Peeples, 23 February 2010, accessed 25 February 2010
- The Art of Perfumery G. W. Septimus Piesse, London, 1862, p 25