A Moment of Science

Smells And Colors

Try this smelly (in a good way) experiment at home!

a collection of lemons

Photo: Troy Tolley (Flickr)

Do you smell lemon when you see a lemon?

In this Moment of Science, we discuss what color has to do with smell. Let’s try an experiment. You’ll need a lemon, a strawberry, a white piece of paper, and a brown piece of paper.

First sniff the lemon while looking at the yellow sheet of paper. The lemon will probably have a very strong sent. Then, smell the strawberry while looking at the brown paper. It probably smells like a strawberry, but not as yummy as it looks.

This is what happened in an experiment in which researchers measured the brain activity of volunteers in a study that associated smells and colors. If the color the subjects were looking at matched the color of the object being smelled, the odor was more intense.

So, if you want your lemon pie to smell nice and lemony make sure it’s yellow and not brown!

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