On the Scent

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A fascinating exploration of how losing our sense of smell can shape our world, and how the global pandemic transformed our understanding of this mysterious sense.

When award-winning reporter Paola Totaro lost her sense of smell to Covid in March 2020, her world changed and dulled in an instant. Trapped in a sensory vacuum without fragrance or flavour, she embarked on a journey of discovery to unravel the mysteries - and eccentricities - of the fifth sense.

Our sense of smell shapes our everyday experiences in ways we often don't even notice. Its loss can affect our emotional wellbeing, our relationships, our ability to interpret the world around us - and yet it has long been regarded as the least important of our senses. But almost overnight,

Covid changed everything. As it became clear that loss of smell was a key symptom and the number of sufferers exploded, olfactory researchers suddenly found themselves thrust into the spotlight, with more attention, subjects and funding than ever before.

On the Scent is the story of a quest for answers, from the theories of ancient philosophers to the cutting-edge laboratories of 21st century neuroscience. It looks at the extraordinary experiences of patients and scientists alike, offering a unique glimpse into the world of those born without smell as well as those who lose it; exploring how smell can be a key indicator of declining physical health; and showing how new research may offer hope to the millions of people worldwide who have suffered sensory loss.