Alexithymia a psychological condition, means failure to express emotions or to understand others emotion. Some studies find that it is twice as common in males, and other studies find more equal rates across gender.
In relating to the sensations an alexithymic individual has difficulty to a greater or lesser degree from joy to fear, and from disgust to anger.
New research shed light on new aspects of the condition, using a previously untested approach. Specifically, given the close link between the perception of smells and emotions.
The scientists said, there is a partial overlap between the areas in our brains which deal with olfactory perception and those which process emotions.
The olfactory tests particularly suitable for studying this specific psychological condition, explains Marilena Aiello, a scientist at SISSA in Trieste.
For testing the severity of alexithymia, scientists divided 62 individuals into three groups to investigate their reaction to different types of stimulation.
The scientists found that alexithymic individuals differ from others in their reaction to smells. Specifically, there physiological parameters, such as heart rate or the electrical conductivity of their skin, which resulted accelerated.
The tests also showed the differences in reactions between subjects characterized by effective alexithymia. In which the sphere of sensations, imagination and creativity restricted. However, those with cognitive alexithymia, which compromises the ability to identify, express and distinguish emotions.
The results also show that one of the characteristics of alexithymia is the altered physiological response to olfactory stimuli.
Another interesting fact in the study is “Contrary to what one might expect”. This study shows how the physiological reactions of alexithymic individuals to emotions get by smells are not less but rather more intense.
If these subjects find themselves in a situation of changing extreme activation in relation to their emotions which appears to make them insensitive to changes in them, to differences, to the colour shades that enrich our daily lives.
More information: [Scientific Reports]