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Science

A dog's sense of smell is so strong it's like having a second set of eyes, study says

They can even detect the adrenaline we secrete when we are scared or anxious.

A dog's sense of smell is so strong it's like having a second set of eyes, study says
Photo by Camilo Fierro on Unsplash
two white and brown dogs

We know that dogs have highly sensitive noses. Anyone who’s tried to hide a peanut butter snack deep in the bottom of a backpack has found this out the hard way. But a new study suggests that dogs not only use their powerful snouts to smell, they also use them to see the world.

The study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, revealed that vision and smell are linked in the neural pathways found in a dog’s brain. This is a trait not currently found in any other species in the world. If you need any further proof that dogs are special, here it is.

A team of veterinary and biology researchers performed MRI scans of a variety of canines and mapped an “extensive network,” starting from the olfactory bulb (the part of the brain that deals with smells) and forming connections with multiple cortices of the dog’s brain. That included the occipital lobe (the area of the brain that processes vision), but also the corticospinal tract and limbic system.

Basically, how a doggo sees, moves, feels … it’s all connected to smell. Yes, they really are just adorable walking noses.


This enhanced network explains why a blind dog might still be able to successfully play fetch, veterinary expert and one of the researchers on the study Dr. Philippa Johnson told Sky News.

dog smell study

Dog science is the best science.

Photo by Agatha on Unsplash

She used the example that where humans tend to walk into a room and rely heavily on vision to interpret their environment, blind dogs “can orientate around their environment, and they don’t bump into things.” This can be especially comforting for those who own dogs with incurable eye disease, Johnson noted.

Considering that a dog’s nose has up to 300 million olfactory receptors (compared to the mere six million we humans have), it's understandable that smell would play such a large role in a dog’s everyday experience. With just one inhale, they can detect bombs, recognize a long lost friend and find their way back home.

dog nose study

Hey you, why the long face?

Photo by Undine Tackmann on Unsplash

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, they can even detect the adrenaline we secrete when we are scared or anxious. That talent alone makes them very empathetic companions.

The study’s findings mark only the beginning of exploration. Johnson and her team plan to study other animals who rely heavily on their sense of smell. Included in that research lineup are horses, whose heads are “predominantly a nasal organ,” and cats, who “have the most amazing olfactory system too, and probably more connections than the dog,” according to Johnson.

Meanwhile, we can all bask in yet another reason to love dogs. Suddenly all that nonstop sniffing makes sense.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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When I was younger I used to think I was dying or that I would get kidnapped by a random stranger, but I kept it to myself because I thought something was wrong with me. I thought that telling people would confirm this fear, so I kept it inside my entire life until I was an adult and learned it was part of ADHD and other disorders, such as OCD and PTSD. But it doesn't have to be part of a disorder at all—a vast amount of people just have intrusive thoughts, and a Twitter user, Laura Gastón, is trying to normalize them for others.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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