Tag: sensory perception

Scientists to Nightclub Owners: For Happier Customers, Cover Up Pit Stink With Delicious Fragrances

By Veronique Greenwood | May 18, 2011 12:16 pm

orange nightclub
“Refreshing” orange scent perked dancers right up.

Air fresheners aren’t just for Grandma anymore.

Dutch scientists suggest that as smoking bans mean club-goers can now smell all the nasty beer, puke, sweat, and so on in nightclubs, owners may want to spritz their businesses with “carefully selected fragrances [that] can enhance dancing activity, improve the overall perception of the evening, and improve how nightclub goers rate the music as well as their mood,” as a press release puts it. In true scientific fashion, the researchers then went clubbing to test their hypothesis.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: What’s Inside Your Brain?

Henry the Seal Can Discern Shapes Using Just His Whiskers

By Patrick Morgan | May 12, 2011 5:22 pm

Blindfolded and fitted with noise-canceling headphones, this seal might better fit a marine-creature hostage crisis than a scientific study. In reality, it’s making history by showing for the first time that the whiskers of harbor seals are so sensitive that they can discern the shapes of objects by the ripples they make. Marine biologists have known for a while that seals use their whiskers to find fish in dark, murky waters, but as lead researcher Wolf Hanke told LiveScience, whiskers had “never been shown to analyze things” beyond that. Being able to discern shape and size means that seals may use their whiskers to pick out the fattest fish.

Henry, a 12-year-old harbor seal, was plopped into an open-air pool in a Cologne zoo to put his whiskers to the test. Researchers blindfolded and placed headphones on him so that he could only use his whiskers to sense underwater objects. In the pool, the researchers placed a plastic box containing an assortment of variably-shaped paddles. Because they trained Henry to touch his nose to a small plastic sphere whenever he thought a paddle’s ripples were different from a control paddle’s ripples, the scientists were able to test whether the seal could discriminate between different shapes and sizes.

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