The team discovered that women have on an average 43 percent more cells than men in a brain structure known as the olfactory bulb, which is the first brain region to receive olfactory information captured by the nostrils.

Sex differences in olfactory detection may play a role in differentiated social behaviour and may be connected to one's perception of smell, which is naturally linked to associated experiences and emotions.

"Thus, women's olfactory superiority has been suggested to be cognitive or emotional rather than perceptual," noted researchers from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

The team examined post-mortem brains from seven men and 11 women, who were all over age 55 at the time of death.

Led by professor Roberto Lent from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the Federal University, the team calculated the number of cells in the olfactory bulbs of these individuals with a fast and reliable technique that measures the absolute number of cells in a given brain structure.

Some believe this olfactory ability is essential for reproductive behaviour such as pair bonding and kin recognition.

If this holds true, then superior olfactory ability is an essential trait that has been inherited and been maintained throughout evolution, researchers concluded.

The group also included researchers from the University of Sao Paulo, University of California, San Francisco, and the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo.

 

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