How The Nose Knows #465

March 16, 2018

We've all got a nose but how does it work? Why do we like some smells and not others, and why can we all agree that some smells are good and some smells are bad, while others are dependant on personal or cultural preferences? We speak with Asifa Majid, Professor of Language, Communication and Cultural Cognition at Radboud University, about the intersection of culture, language, and smell. And we level up on our olfactory neuroscience with University of Pennsylvania Professor Jay Gottfried.


  • Asifa Majid
  • Jay Gottfried

Guest Bios

Asifa Majid

Asifa Majid is Professor of Language, Communication and Cultural Cognition at Radboud University, The Netherlands. She investigates the nature of categories and concepts in language, in non-linguistic perception and cognition, and the relationship between them. She adopts a large-scale cross-cultural approach in order to establish which aspects of categorisation are fundamentally shared, and which language-specific. Her work is interdisciplinary, combining standardised psychological methodology, in-depth linguistic studies, and ethnographically-informed description. This coordinated approach has been used to study domains such as space, event representation and more recently the language of smell.

Jay Gottfried

Jay Gottfried is a world-renowned neuroscientist and the Arthur H. Rubenstein University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, with joint faculty appointments in the Department of Neurology in the Perelman School of Medicine and the Department of Psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences. His current research program spans a multidisciplinary range of approaches, including olfactory functional imaging in human and mouse subjects, intracranial EEG recordings in epilepsy patients, and immunohistochemical characterization of the human olfactory system. His favorite smell is shiso leaf and his favorite superhero is Plastic Man.

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