Scent Of Fear boosts Performance

supercharged women Scent Of Fear boosts PerformanceThis week’s Neurotechnology tip is a little whimsical, but if you’re looking for a way to supercharge yourself without using caffeine – the horror movie sniff might be an option to consider. 

The tip is based on the findings from a study carried out at Rice University. The study  found that women exposed to chemicals from fear-induced sweat, performed more accurately and significantly faster,  on a word-association task.   It took “fear-induced” sweat to improve cognitive performance, ordinary sweat did not get the brain cells buzzing.   

If you can get over the “gross” sniffing sweat, the whole think makes intuitive sense.

Just like animals

Zoologists have known for years that animals experiencing stress and fear produce chemical signals which are picked up by their “friends”.   The friends are then able to adjust their behaviour, which often times means they “live to see another day”.

Humans aren’t renowned for their well developed olfactory skills but we clearly can smell “fear” and react appropriately.

So how do you get hold of some “fear-induced” sweat

It is not as difficult as you might think.   Begin by hiring a really scary movie.  Before you press START, strategically tape some cotton wool or gauze under your arm pits.

“Enjoy” the movie.

Remove your “fear-induced” sweat balls and pop them in a ziplock bag in the freezer.  Save them for an occasion that you feel you will need a little bit of “help”.

When the “difficult” occasion arises

sniffing cotton wool ball Scent Of Fear boosts PerformanceGrab your special “fear-induced” sweat ball and strategically stick it under your nose – ensure you able to get a good whiff(s). 

NOTE : The researchers taped the “special” balls above participants lips.  This approach might be a little awkward, especially in a public setting but it won’t actually smell bad.  

The adrenaline rush induced by the sweat ball may just give you the extra little oomph to tackle the million and one tasks on your “to-do” list.

Of course, if this sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, high doses of caffeine remain an option.  A high dose of caffeine will give you an adrenaline rush to kick start  performance. 

Fear related chemosignal  modulates fear recogntion in ambigious facial expressions.  W. Zhou, D Chen.  Rice University media centre.

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Further reading

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