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Rachel Sarah Herz

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Name  Rachel Herz

Rachel Sarah Herz httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu
Notable works  The Scent of Desire and That's Disgusting
Books  The scent of desire, That's Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion
Education  University of Toronto, Queen's University

Rachel Sarah Herz is both a psychologist and a cognitive neuroscientist, and a recognized expert on the psychology of smell.



Rachel Herz did an undergraduate degree in psychology and biology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and an MA and Ph.D in the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto. After completing her PhD in 1992, she won a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Post-Doctoral Award and took her research to the University of British Columbia. In 1994, she received the Ajinomoto USA Inaugural Award for Promising Young Scientists and joined the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia as an assistant member. In 2000, Herz joined the faculty at Brown University, first as a member of the Psychology Department and now as a visiting professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of Brown University Medical School. Since the mid-1990s, Herz has been consulting for many of the world’s leading multinational fragrance and flavor companies and regularly lectures to national and international audiences.

In 2004 Herz had to change her relationship with Brown University to a more limited involvement so that she could pursue other creative enterprises. It was at this time that she began writing The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell (William Morrow/Harper Collins Publishers) as well as working on other means to educate and stimulate the general public about the chemical senses. Her commercial ventures include The Educated Palate.

Psychology of smell

Herz has been conducting research on smell, emotion and cognition since 1990. Her research has shown how odor-evoked memory is emotionally unique compared to other kinds of memory experiences, how emotional associations can change odor perception, and how odors can be conditioned to emotions and subsequently influence motivated behavior. Her work also deals with how language can affect odor perception and her laboratory has empirically demonstrated the first instance of olfactory illusions created by words alone. A third area of her research concerns the role of body-odor and fragrance in heterosexual attraction. Theoretically guided by perspectives from cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology, Herz uses psychophysical, self-report, cognitive-behavioral and neurological techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to investigate these topics.

Selected articles

  • Herz, R.S. (1998). "Are odors the best cues to memory? A cross-modal comparison of associative memory stimuli." Annals of the New York Academy Sciences, 855, 670-674.
  • Herz, R.S. (2000). "Scents of Time." The Sciences (July/August), 34-39.
  • Herz, R.S., & von Clef, J. (2001). "The influence of verbal labeling on the perception of odors: Evidence for olfactory illusions?" Perception, 30, 381-391.
  • Herz, R.S. (2001). "Ah, sweet skunk: Why we like or dislike what we smell." Cerebrum, Vol.3(4), 31-47.
  • Herz, R.S., & Inzlicht, M. (2002). "Gender differences in response to physical and social signals involved in human mate selection: The importance of smell for women." Evolution and Human Behavior, 23, 359-364.
  • Herz, R.S., Eliassen, J.C., Beland, S.L., & T. Souza. (2003). "Neuroimaging evidence for the emotional potency of odor-evoked memory." Neuropsychologia, 42, 371-378.
  • Carskadon, M., & Herz, R.S. (2004). "Minimal olfactory perception during sleep: Why odor alarms will not work for humans." Sleep, 27, 402-405.
  • Herz, R.S., Beland, S.L. & Hellerstein, M. (2004). "Changing odor hedonic perception through emotional associations in humans." International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 17, 315-339.
  • Herz, R.S., Schankler, C. & Beland, S. (2004). "Olfaction, emotion and associative learning: Effects on motivated behavior." Motivation and Emotion, 28, 363-383.
  • Herz, R.S. (2006). "I know what I like: Understanding odor preferences." In J. Drobnick (Ed), The Smell Culture Reader. (pp. 190– 203). Oxford: Berg.
  • Herz, R.S. (2009). "Aromatherapy facts and fictions: A scientific analysis of olfactory effects on mood, physiology and behavior." International Journal of Neuroscience, 119, 263-290.
  • Books

  • The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell, New York: William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-06-082537-9.
  • That's Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion, New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-07647-9
  • Outreach

    Herz's research on sensory memory was on display from 2001-2006 in a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibit called "Brain: The world inside your head". She has given numerous interviews, including for: CBC, The Science of the Senses, (The Discovery Channel, Canada), The Discovery Channel USA, ABC Discovery News, ABC News, The BBC, National Geographic, NBC Nightly news, Korean Public Broadcasting, ABC The Chronicle, FOX News, National Public Radio, CBS The Early Show.


    Rachel Sarah Herz Wikipedia

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