Skip to main content

How to master your sense of smell - Alexandra Horowitz


3,987 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

Some perfumers can distinguish individual odors in a fragrance made of hundreds of scents; tea-experts have been known to sniff out the exact location of a particular tea; and the NYC Transit Authority once had a employee responsible only for sniffing out gas leaks. But can anyone learn to smell with the sensitivity of those experts? Alexandra Horowitz shares three simple steps to a better nose.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Love this lesson? Want to learn more about the sense of smell? Take a look at How do dogs "see" with their noses? and How do we smell? What does the nose know that you may not? Read this: What Your Nose Knows: Sense of Smell and Your Health.

Is there really more to be said about slowing down to “smell the roses?” Dos this really help you learn to smell better? This article and podcast might give you some more answers: Stop and smell the coffee: Olfactory stimulation might increase your sense of smell.

Find out more about the human sense of smell in the “Smell Report.” What is more of the science behind smell? Here are a few resources: The Science of Smell: How the Most Direct of Our Senses Works, The science of scent, and Psychology’s Today collection of The Science of Smell.

Can people have smell disorders? The answer is yes. That really stinks! Learn more about smell disorders, what they involve, and where help can be found by visiting this page. What would it be like to go through life with no sense of smell? Find out from NPR: With No Sense Of Smell, The World Can Be A Grayer, Scarier Place. This article will also give you more insight into this issue: The Nose That Never Knows.

Interested in discovering other smelly things to think about: Why Can't We Smell Things When It's Cold?, Why Smell is the Most Powerful Sense! , How Smells Trigger Memories, and How Many Smells Can You Smell? Who “nose” what you may learn.

Next Section »

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Alexandra Horowitz
  • Director Jonathan Trueblood
  • Script Editor Mia Nacamulli
  • Illustrator Jonathan Trueblood
  • Animator David Morrison
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Associate Producer Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Julianna Zarzycki

More from Getting Under Our Skin