11. July 2018
For you personally, what is the most fascinating aspect in your research on smelling and tasting?
I was fascinated most by the breadth of the topic. I studied biology, chemistry and medicine, and all these subjects are strongly connected to the effects of smell. Fragrances are chemical, functions are biological and the latest research has shown that fragrances also have an considerate medicinal significance and influence cellular reactions.
Professor Hatt, what significance does fragrance have for human life?
The olfactory cells in the nose are directly connected to the emotion and memory center in the brain and are safely stored there for a very long time. That way, fragrances are perfectly suited to transporting us back to the ancient past. For this reason, fragrances also play a central but mostly subconscious role in every decision we make daily as humans. This applies when we make purchasing decisions for products, but fragrances also help us decide whether we like or dislike another human being, even with the choice of partners. It is a huge list. In addition, there are the health aspects. Almost all human behavior can be affected by fragrance. No wonder they are increasingly used in marketing, psychology or medicine. Often we are influenced without even noticing it.
You said that loves goes through the nose. Could one presume that our entire consumer behavior goes through the nose?
Fragrances are connected and stored in our brain with the emotion that we had the moment we first became aware of the fragrance. This assessment applies to a product as well. As a matter of fact, „fragrance brands“ are used in almost all areas nowadays, practically everything is scented. Shoes, mobile phones, departments stores, hotels and many companies feature a brand perfume, the so-called „corporate scent“. Our consumer behavior is clearly determined by what we smell. This will also be the subject of my talk on the occasion oft he SEPAWA congress in October.
Do we smell through the nose?
We can only smell through the nose, however, the olfactory receptors of the nose can be found everywhere in our body as well. With the help of these „chemo rezeptors“ which are located in our organs and in the body tissue, the cellular functions are influenced. This has nothing to do with „smelling“ and works for people who have completely lost all sense of smell. A good example would be fragrance receptors in the skin cells that promote wound healing and skin regeneration. Even hair growth can be influenced by fragrances through stimulation of the fragrance receptors, be it for a better digestion or an increase or a decrease in the heart beat. Fragrances also trigger cellular reactions in the brain: calming, stimulating, concentration-enhancing etc.. All these are less to do with the subjective perceptions of smell but more the effects due to pharmacological reactions and as such, they always remain the same and are reproducible.
Is there such a thing as the smell that goes with a circumstance, a company, a place or an event?
Yes, every company wants to convey a message. This message can of course be emphasized by fragrances. If you want to emphasize modernity and freshness, you would probably use something citrus-based, whereas if you are going for a down-to-earth approach, you would more likely fall back on familiar notes such as earthy or lavender. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the University of Bochum, we created our own university fragrance which we named „knowledge“. It contains our research knowledge of the last 20 years. We have been able to show scientifically that certain fragrances cause our brain to make us more active, more able to concentrate, whereas others would have a calming and sleep-promoting effect. In my view, this is the future: effective perfumes.
Could you create a Fragrance of SEPAWA?
Yes, sure. To do this, I would have to identify SEPAWA’s message and translate that into a fragrance. Perhaps in October we could sit down together and think what SEPAWA smells like
Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. med. habil. Hanns Hatt
Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Zellphysiologie