Have you ever been uncomfortable around someone, and not really known why? Have you ever had someone ask you how you are feeling, when you felt fine, only to then get sick a few days later? Why are some doctors so good at diagnosing disease? Parents; did you know something was up with your child before anything was obvious?
Researchers have recently found evidence suggesting that our senses of smell and vision create awareness of disease in others before it manifests or presents itself.
Investigators at Karolinska Institute in Sweden have concluded that the human brain is much better at discovering and avoiding disease, in their early stages, than we previously thought. Images and smells of people with illness were presented to a group of volunteers who were then asked to rate how much they liked the subjects.
The volunteers had their brain activity measured while they reviewed said images and smells. The volunteers were less likely to want to socialize with the people who were sick based on how they appeared and even less likely to want to do so based on smell. This appears to be biological confirmation that survival naturally involves avoiding infection and disease.
One interesting thing that came from this study is that the opposite appeared when someone with close relations was sick. A sick child, for example, would change behavior of a parent, who becomes more attentive.
This study was motivated by the theory that we tend to have more positive reactions to people who are healthy than to those who have disease. Yet one more reason to take charge of your well-being and stay healthy!