Yaara Endevelt of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and her colleagues investigated whether drinking alcohol known to lower inhibitory signals in the brain - affected the sense of smell.

In one experiment, 20 volunteers were asked to smell three different liquids. Two were a mixture of the same six odours, the third contained a similar mixture with one odour replaced.

Each volunteer was given 2 seconds to smell each of the liquids and asked to select the odd one out. The test was repeated six times with each of three trios of liquids.

They were then given a drink that consisted of 35 millilitres of vodka and sweetened grape juice, or the juice alone, before repeating the experiment with the same set of liquids, scientists reported.

In a second experiment with a similar drinking structure, the same volunteers were asked which of three liquids had a rose-like odour. The researchers increased the concentration of the odour until the volunteers got the right answer three times in a row.

Endevelt's team then tested the senses of people in pubs around the cities of Rehovot and Herzliya.

Across all three experiments, the team found a correlation between a person's blood-alcohol level and score on tests of odour detection and discrimination.

But while low levels of alcohol improved performance, too much about two units within an hour for women and three for men led to a significant reduction in sense of smell.

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