In his novel “Perfume – the Story of a Murderer”, Patrick Süskind managed to put the power of odors into words better than anyone before him. It may be a fascinating idea, but no one will ever be able to create the perfect fragrance that makes a person irresistibly attractive. In the animal world, on the other hand, olfactory signals are an essential element of social communication. Yet we are only just beginning to understand the complexities and functional differences of the sense of smell in mammals.
Professor Marc Spehr is leading the Department of Chemosensation at RWTH Aachen University since 2009, where he is conducting research on the neuronal mechanisms of olfactory perception and signal processing using the mouse model. In his experiments, he and his team are trying to find out how substances for social interaction are perceived and how this perception generates a specific type of behavior.