Steve Van Toller and Martin Kendal-Reed
A possible protocognitive role for odor in human infant development
Brain & Cognition 29. 3 (Dec 1995): 275-293


Presents a theoretical argument that the olfactory system may play a vital role during human development. Two fundamental tools of semiotics are metaphors, involving cognitive and verbal processes, and metonyms, involving nonverbal associations. By extending the concept of metonymy to nonlinguistic transmission, an explanation is proposed for how olfaction acts as a semiotic sense. Consideration of the sense of smell in animals and humans demonstrates its excellence for the formation of learned associations. The olfactory dyadic relationship between mother and child is used for the theoretical proposal in that the sense of smell plays an important protocognitive role in the genesis of cognition via mechanisms of in utero and postnatal nonlinguistic metonymic learning processes.


Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles