Smell of fear helps in cognition

April 1, 2006

The chemical warning signals produced by fear improve cognitive performance, a study at Rice University in Houston indicates.

Women who were exposed to chemicals from fear-induced sweat performed more accurately on word-association tasks than did women exposed to chemicals from other types of sweat or no sweat at all.

"It is well-documented in the research literature that animals experiencing stress and fear produce chemical warning signals that can lead to behavioral, endocrinological and immunological changes in their fellow animals of the same species, but we wanted to see if this applies to humans as well," said principal investigator Denise Chen, assistant professor of psychology at Rice.

Chen collected samples of sweat from research volunteers who kept gauze pads in their armpits while they watched videos of horror movies and non-threatening documentaries.

The study was published in the journal Chemical Senses.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: 'Fear detector' being developed

Related Stories

'Fear detector' being developed

November 3, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- British scientists are aiming to develop a device that can detect the smell of fear, and that could one day identify terrorists, drug smugglers, and other criminals.

In scientific coup, Russians reach Antarctic lake

February 8, 2012

After more than two decades of drilling in Antarctica, Russian scientists have reached a gigantic freshwater lake hidden under miles of ice for some 20 million years - a pristine body of water that may hold life from the ...

'Bioidenticals' not FDA-approved, contain estrogen

October 25, 2009

(AP) -- Miserable in menopause, Elizabeth Alsgaard pondered an awful choice: Drenching hot flashes or hormone therapies that might raise the risk of cancer. What former actress Suzanne Somers raved about held much more appeal ...

Psychologist explores perception of fear in human sweat

March 6, 2009

When threatened, many animals release chemicals as a warning signal to members of their own species, who in turn react to the signals and take action. Research by Rice University psychologist Denise Chen suggests a similar ...

Recommended for you

Innovations from the wild world of optics and photonics

August 2, 2015

Traditional computers manipulate electrons to turn our keystrokes and Google searches into meaningful actions. But as components of the computer processor shrink to only a few atoms across, those same electrons become unpredictable ...

Shedding light on millipede evolution

August 2, 2015

As an National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded entomologist, Virginia Tech's Paul Marek has to spend much of his time in the field, hunting for rare and scientifically significant species. He's provided NSF with an inside ...

Better together: graphene-nanotube hybrid switches

August 2, 2015

Graphene has been called a wonder material, capable of performing great and unusual material acrobatics. Boron nitride nanotubes are no slackers in the materials realm either, and can be engineered for physical and biological ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.