Stop to Smell

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    Compared to humans, much of a four legger's brain is devoted to nasal memory (related to their sensory input — a nose close to the ground). A dog can identify whether pairs of humans are identical twins or not by scent alone.

    Their memories, thoughts and reveries may be rich and difficult for us to fully understand.

    “The past still lives in us …[it] has made us what we are and is remaking us every moment! … An hour is not merely an hour! … It is a vase filled with perfumes, sounds, places and climates! So we hold within us a treasure of impressions, clustered in small knots, each with a flavor of its own, formed from our own experiences, that become certain moments of our past.”
    — Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu

    Some tidbits from a DARPA “artificial nose” researcher that I met at the IBM Institute on Cognitive Computing: Compared to humans, the dog has a much larger olfactory epithelium (the sensory receptor sheet) with many-fold more receptors. Also, dogs (and many other mammals) have more types of sensory receptors, and so they encode odorants in a higher-dimensional representation (reminding me of vision in birds). Humans have about 350-400 distinct receptor types, whereas mice have 1000. Many of these receptors are co-activated by the same odorant, so biological olfaction is inherently a high dimensional representation system.

    The olfactory system is a much more direct activation path for stored memories, at a much deeper and more multidimensional level, than the other senses, consistent with its primitive evolutionary role in memory and association. The electrical signals from the olfactory tract go to the limbic system, the most ancient part of the brain — the hotbed of our most instinctual and primitive emotions.

    Jack Pearce, soopa, and 21 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. biotron 87 months ago | reply

      ace - and if you're a great dane, you just happen to have a telescope for a face, as well :)

    2. Vanita 87 months ago | reply

      All that... and a cute puppy to boot.

    3. Josh Thompson 87 months ago | reply

      ahhh...puppies and science. Can't beat that.

    4. !MimosaMicheMichelle! 87 months ago | reply

      I want this puppy!!! So adorable!!!

      Well, I am now envious of this little dog's experience! Better yet, it would be great if we could temporarily up the electrical signals that we can receive from one sense, gather all the experiences that can be useful for us, then switch back to normal mode until the next time that we feel the need to increase one other sense. We may want to momentarily sense more, smell or taste more, see or hear more. Perhaps our sixth sense would develop considerably after such experiences.

      I want to be pleasantly overwhelmed with experiences like this puppy. I would know exactly how to make good use of them, how to turn them into creativity that would benefit others. Does that make sense to you?

      À la recherche du temps search of lost time.

      Seen on your photo stream. (?)

    5. gdsanders 87 months ago | reply

      My labrador definitely has a higher-dimensional representation for Velvetta slices. A thousand different types of plastic can be noisily unfolded in the house, and my buddy Hoss shows no outward awareness or curiousity.

      Unfold one slice of cheese from the plastic wrapper and he comes.

    6. !MimosaMicheMichelle! 87 months ago | reply

      I once had a cat and he would smell from far away cantaloupe even if I would intentionally be extremely quiet about cutting it up. As soon as I cut it open, he would wake from his slumber and scurry to the kitchen and insist on devouring the inside of the skin.

      Seen in my recent comments. (?)

    7. Scott C (sec611) 87 months ago | reply

      Their smell may be keen but don't discount their hearing. Like listening for the sound of the treats drawer being opened, a crust dropped on the floor etc. etc. ;)

    8. IseFire 87 months ago | reply

      great photo and great comments with it. i like when someone's flickr pages are are sort of blog-like insofar as the photos comes with information or commentary. (Of course, certain photos are best left to "speak for themselves," i suppose)

    9. !MimosaMicheMichelle! 87 months ago | reply

      You might enjoy learning about various areas in and around Montréal from my pages. Albeit in a quite different way, I like to inform too. Viewing by sets is best. They are not complete as I add the photos gradually.

    10. j_silla 87 months ago | reply

      I think this is as cute as the pupy you really should take time to watch it (an unexpected revolution as they say)

    11. Nfer 87 months ago | reply

      Nothing to say!

      I love dogs, and can understand much more of they that I can understand the humans...(I believe...)

      Thanks for the links and the text.

    12. TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ 86 months ago | reply

      My new neighbors have a dog -a siberian-, and the other day I made a mini elevator trip with him and one of his owners (a guy of my age).

      The dog has seen me couple of days ago, however it surprised me -with some relief, tho!!!- in the tiny elevator's room that the dog didn´t start smelling me all the way. You know what "ALL the way" means!. He just gave me "hello" snif and kept looking at the blind door for 8 floors. "A very human-educated dog", thought I. =)

    13. Betty Sue 85 months ago | reply

      ~I SNIFFED out this wonderful image!
      You deserve this nose worthy award!
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      We are having a contest right now that you might want to enter!
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