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Toward a cognitive science of smell: Reconsidering “higher” cognition from the perspective of a “lower” sense

Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary research paradigm that emerged after WWII and that studies the mind at psychological, computational and neurobiological levels of analysis. The cognitive sciences have historically focused on domains such as language, memory, and attention; processing of environmental stimuli presented by means of vision and sound, the ”higher” senses. This project aims to reconsider the cognitive sciences from the perspective of smell, olfaction, which is historically considered primitive and at odds with human intelligence. As behavioral and neurobiological research have reappraised the human olfactory capabilities, it remains an open question whether and how olfaction will be integrated in the cognitive sciences field. Traditionally, cognition is viewed as arising by means of abstraction, away from the sensory environment. I hope to complement this framework by invoking sensory differences in cognition, focusing on olfaction. By integrating cognitive research findings from olfaction and contrast them with those obtained from vision and sound, this project will introduce a new theoretical perspective on how ”higher” mental abilities emerge from unique interactions with sensory impressions.


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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].