My research engages with a deceptively simple question: Have you ever wondered how you smell? Not to the noses of other people, but how your brain responds to the most ephemeral chemical signals and catapults them into consciousness. My work focuses on the chemical senses and probes ways to apply philosophical ideas to empirical research on how we should model perception and cognition in the brain. My cross-disciplinary background enables me to blend my foundation in philosophy with cognitive science to actively participate in advanced studies of the senses and their neural representation.
Specifically, my research explores how our theories of perception and the brain would be different if we were looking at smell instead of the sensory paradigm in neuroscience and philosophy, vision.
I explore what olfaction can tell us about the human mind based on two areas of focus:
- The investigation of the perceptual and cultural dimensions of smell and its link to cognition. This involves theoretical analysis with empirical exploration of the affective nature of odor, its phenomenological structure, and cross-modal influences.
- The role of scientific expertise in laboratory-based neuroscience. I focus on current advances in olfaction to analyze the conceptual foundations of neuroscience. Here, I explore how cognitive and behavioral patterns influence scientific decision-making by tracing the emergence, success, and decline of standard laboratory routines.
The integration of these two areas - the study of contemporary neuroscience and theorizing about perception - broadens our general understanding of the senses and, in particular, flavor and fragrance perception. Odor and flavor are multi-dimensional phenomena that have fundamentally shaped human culture and history. Yet its scientific history still needs to be written...
Image from H. Zwaardemaker, Die Physiologie des Geruchs (1895), depicting Paulsen's 1882 experiments of airflow patterns in the nasal cavity.