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

( -- 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.

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 ...

'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 ...

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 ...

Recommended for you

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...


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.