Disgust with Rachel Herz (BSP 86)

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Disgust is an universal emotion, but unlike emotions like fear and anger, disgust must be learned.  This is the main conclusion of Dr. Rachel Herz's latest book, That's Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion.  In a recent interview (BSP 86), Dr. Herz told me why she spent the last several years studying this rather unusual subject.  We also discussed what the study of disgust can tell us about how our brains process emotion.

This is Dr. Herz's second visit to the Brain Science Podcast.  Back in BSP 34 we talked about her first book, The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell.

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Guests Who Have Been on the Brain Science Podcast

The Brain Science Podcast provides a unique opportunity for scientists and writers to discuss their work and ideas in depth. Here is a list of the guests who have been interviewed. This list is complete through June 13, 2008.
  • Michael Arbib, PhD: The role of mirror neurons in imitation and language; Episode 39.
  • Sandra Blakeslee: co-author of The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better; Episode 23.
  • Louanne Brizendine MD: author of The Female Brain; Episode 20.
  • György Buzsáki, PhD: author of Rhythms of the Brain; Episode 31. (Interview Transcript)
  • Norman Doidge, MD: author of The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science; Episode 26.
  • Arthur Glenberg, PhD: Embodied cognition; Episode 36.
  • Elkhonon Goldberg, PhD: author of The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind and The Wisdom Paradox; Episode 18.
  • Jeff Hawkins: author of On Intelligence; Episode 38.
  • Rachel Herz, PhD: author of The Scent of Desire: Discovering our Enigmatic Sense of Smell; Episode 34.
  • Christof Koch, PhD: author of The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach; Episode 22. Interview transcript: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dg8sf6hf_33z9z29kfm
  • John Medina, PhD: author of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School; Episode 37.
  • Read Montague, PhD: author of Why Choose This Book?: How We Make Decisions; Episode 15.
  • Rolf Pfiefer, PhD: author of How the Body Shapes the Way We Think: A New View of Intelligence ; Episode 25.
  • John J Ratey, MD: author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain; Episode 33.
  • Stuart Shanker, PhD: How the study of communication among bonobos provides clues about the role of emotional signaling in the evolution of language; Episode 7.
  • Edward Taub, PhD: revolutionary approach to stroke rehabilitation; Episode 28.
  • Maryanne Wolf, PhD: author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain; Episode 29.

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You can find all the books discussed on the Brain Science Podcast at the Brain Science Store.

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Rachel Herz Talks About Smell (BSP 34)

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Rachel Herz, PhD

Episode 34 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Rachel Herz, author of The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell (2007).  Dr. Herz teaches at Brown University, and she is a leading authority on the psychology of smell.  We talk about the how smell works, its role in emotion and memory, why it is so vulnerable, and why smell is much more important than most of us realize.  We also consider some of the questions that remain unanswered.

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Links and References:

Rachel Herz:

The 2004 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology was awarded to Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck for their discoveries of "odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system."

BuckL, Axel R.: "A novel multigene family may encode odorant receptors: a molecular basis for odor recognition."

Cell. 1991 Apr 5;65(1):175-87.

"The (Shocked) Nose Knows" by Gisela Telis Science NOW Daily News 27 March 2008.

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The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell (2007), by Rachel Herz

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