For a graphic example of the relationship between smell and taste, put a slice of apple in your mouth and a slice of pear under your nose. The scent of the pear will make you think you’re eating it instead of the apple. Several million people suffer from some type of taste or smell problem — a virus, for example, can temporarily or permanently lead to loss of smell, blocking the ability to taste the difference between ice cream and oatmeal. The world-famous Monell-Jefferson Taste and Smell Clinic is dedicated to understanding the mysteries of the science of taste and smell and how these senses impact health and well-being. Primarily focused on research, its 60-plus investigators delve into quandaries as diverse as why a smell odious to one person can be pleasing to another, how taste and smell influence our food preferences, how human body odors communicate attraction or repulsion, and whether environmental odors impact our biology. While treatments for these problems are limited, those seeking diagnosis can visit the clinic at Jefferson Hospital, where they may be enrolled in studies searching for cures (925 Chestnut Street, 800-JEFF-NOW, jeffersonhospital.org/otolaryngology).
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