Body odors’ social cues are misread by people with autism

New research at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science suggests that people on the autism spectrum have different – and even opposite – reactions to almost imperceptible odors produced by the human body. This altered sense of smell may be as significant as vision in the person’s difficulty interpreting nonverbal social cues.

Neurobiology researchers in the lab of Prof. Noam Sobel study the odors that subliminally convey such emotions as happiness, fear or aggression to others. Since these odors are a form of social communication, they wondered whether smell perception might be skewed in people with social disorders such as autism.

As reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience on November 27, Sobel and lab members Yaara Endevelt-Shapira and Ofer Perl led a series of experiments with a group of volunteers on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum.

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14th February 2018
Israel 21c