By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – If you always know where you left your keys, you may have a keen sense of smell.

Researchers at McGill University say people with better spatial memory are also better at identifying odors.

They told 57 young men and women to spend 20 minutes exploring a virtual city and then asked them to find direct routes between some of the landmarks.

Virtual City Test (WBZ-TV)

The subjects were also asked to identify 40 different smells including basil, strawberry, and cinnamon.

The people who were best able to navigate the virtual city were also best at identifying the different odors.

Using MRIs they found that similar regions of the brain are involved in both tasks. The theory is that in prehistoric times, many animals and humans had to rely on a good sense of smell and good spatial orientation to help them find food and avoid predators, so both of these skills evolved together.

Dr. Mallika Marshall


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