Psychopaths have poor smell sense - study

2012-09-20 22:22

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - Psychopaths have a remarkably poor sense of smell, according to a study published on Thursday.

Researchers in Australia tested a theory that psychopathy - a severe personality disorder characterised by lack of empathy, antisocial behaviour and callousness - may be linked to impaired smell ability.

Both phenomena have been independently traced to dysfunction in part of the brain called the orbito-frontal complex (OFC).

Mehmet Mahmut and Richard Stevenson of the Department of Psychology at Sydney's Macquarie University trialled the olfactory skills of 79 individuals, aged 19 to 21, who had been diagnosed as non-criminal psychopaths and lived in the community.

Using "Sniffin' Sticks" - 16 pens that contain different scents, such as orange, coffee and leather - they found the participants had problems in correctly identifying the smell, and then discriminating it against a different odour.

Those who scored highest on a standard scorecard of psychopathic traits did worst on both counts, even though they knew that they were smelling something.

Identifying psychopaths

The finding could be useful for identifying psychopaths, who are famously manipulative in the face of questioning, says the paper, published in the journal Chemosensory Perception.

"Olfactory measures represent a potentially interesting marker for psychopathic traits, because performance expectancies are unclear in odour tests and may therefore be less susceptible to attempts to fake 'good' or 'bad' responses."

The OFC is a front part of the brain responsible for controlling impulses, planning and behaving in line with social norms.

It also appears to be important in processing olfactory signals, although the precise function is unclear, according to previous research.

Odour molecules bind to specific nerve cells in the base of the nose, which then send signals via the lateral olfactory tract to the primary olfactory cortex.

From there, the signals go to OFC via a brain organ called the mediodorsal nucleus, located in the thalamus.

The study makes clear that a poor sense of smell does not by itself mean that someone is a psychopath. Olfactory dysfunction can also occur in schizophrenia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, it notes.

- SAPA
Read more on:    australia  |  research  |  science
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!

Find out who and what South Africans were most curious about in 2014!

 
 

I love summer.24

This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem
The world's least visited destination is breathtaking!
LOL treadmill fail!
Google’s top searches of 2014

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Any chance to explore the distant shores of things yet to be found will fascinate you. The challenge is dealing with the issues...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.