How pleasant scents can restore sense

Fire up the mower, hack into that overgrown lawn, then take a whiff – that sweet aroma of freshly cut grass might just calm you down.

Neuroscientist Dr Judith Reinhard says the chemistry in pleasant odours such as newly cropped grass is so powerful their scents can alter gene expression in the brain and reduce aggression.

Dr Reinhard’s team at the Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, is working to uncover the molecular mechanisms behind the phenomenon of aromatherapy.

The researchers have so far discovered aggression in honey bees can be reduced by exposing them to pleasant odours, such as the smell of freshly cut grass.

“Honey bees are an excellent model because just like humans, they are extremely social and prone to stress, which makes them aggressive,” Dr Reinhard said.

“Bees exposed to the odour of cut grass actually have altered gene expression levels in their brains,