Monday, October 04, 2004

Proust would be proud

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2004 has been awarded jointly to Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck for their discoveries of "odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system."

Axel and Buck discovered a large gene family of "odorant receptors" helping to understand how humans "can consciously experience the smell of a lilac flower in the spring and recall this olfactory memory at other times."

A good wine or a sunripe wild strawberry activates a whole array of odorant receptors, helping us to perceive the different odorant molecules.

A unique odour can trigger distinct memories from our childhood or from emotional moments — positive or negative — later in life.

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