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Dr. Noam Sobel: How Smells Influence Our Hormones, Health & Behavior

193 Min
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Andrew Huberman, Ph.D.
In this episode, my guest is Noam Sobel, PhD, professor of neurobiology in the department of brain sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Dr. Sobel explains his lab’s research on the biological mechanisms of smell (“olfaction”) and how sensing odorants and chemicals in our environment impacts human behavior, cognition, social connections, and hormones. He explains how smell is a crucial component of “social sensing” and how we use olfaction when meeting new people to determine things about their physiology and psychology, and he explains how this impacts friendships and romantic partners. He explains how smell influences emotions, hormone levels, memories and the relationship between breathing and autonomic homeostasis. He describes how smell-based screening tests can aid disease diagnosis and explains his lab’s work on digitization of smell — which may soon allow online communication to include “sending of odors” via the internet. Dr. Sobel’s work illustrates how sensitive human olfaction is and how it drives much of our biology and behavior. For the full show notes, visit Thank you to our sponsors AG1 (Athletic Greens): ROKA: Thesis: Helix Sleep: InsideTracker: Supplements from Momentous Timestamps (00:00:00) Dr. Noam Sobel (00:03:46) Sponsors: ROKA, Thesis, Helix Sleep (00:06:46) Olfaction Circuits (Smell) (00:14:49) Loss & Regeneration of Smell, Illness (00:21:39) Brain Processing of Smell (00:24:40) Smell & Memories (00:27:52) Sponsor: AG1 (Athletic Greens) (00:29:07) Humans & Odor Tracking (00:39:25) The Alternating Nasal Cycle & Autonomic Nervous System (00:48:18) Cognitive Processing & Breathing (00:54:47) Neurodegenerative Diseases & Olfaction (01:00:12) Congenital Anosmia (01:05:01) Sponsor: InsideTracker (01:06:19) Handshaking, Sharing Chemicals & Social Sensing (01:15:07) Smelling Ourselves & Smelling Others (01:22:02) Odors & Romantic Attraction (01:24:58) Vomeronasal Organ, “Bruce Effect” & Miscarriage (01:40:20) Social Chemo-Signals, Fear (01:50:26) Chemo-Signaling, Aggression & Offspring (02:03:57) Menstrual Cycle Synchronization (02:12:11) Sweat, Tears, Emotions & Testosterone (02:27:46) Science Politics (02:37:54) Food Odors & Nutritional Value (02:45:34) Human Perception & Odorant Similarity (02:52:12) Digitizing Smell, COVID-19 & Smell (03:05:50) Medical Diagnostic Future & Olfaction Digitization (03:10:55) Zero-Cost Support, YouTube Feedback, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, Momentous, Social Media, Neural Network Newsletter Title Card Photo Credit: Mike Blabac Disclaimer