Did you know that lemons can not only help you get over a hangover but can also make you feel slimmer. Yes, a new study has established that olfactory and auditory stimuli might change how we perceive our body!

For example, people tend to feel thinner and lighter when exposed to the smell of lemon, while they feel heavier and more corpulent when they smell vanilla.

This is one of the results of the investigation recorded in the article 'As Light As Your Scent: Effects of Smell and Sound on Body Image Perception', which explores the relation between smell and body shape.

The findings were presented at the meeting IFIP Conference on Human-Computer Interaction.

The research team has demonstrated that the image we have of our own body changes depending on the stimuli we encounter, such as olfactory. Exposure to different smells can make us feel slimmer or more corpulent.

Another sense that influences this is hearing. Through a device adapted to a pair of shoes, developed by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in 2015 in collaboration with University College London and the University of London's School of Advanced Study, researchers have analysed how our perception of our body changes when the frequency spectrum of steps taken during physical activity was modified in real-time.

"By increasing high frequencies, people feel lighter, happier, walk in a more active way and as a result, they find it easier to exercise," explains Ana Tajadura-Jimenez, a lecturer in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the UC3M and one of the authors of both investigations.

This technology, based on audio stimulus, that was used successfully both in 2017 to treat people with chronic pain and in 2019 to promote physical activity, is combined with olfactory stimuli in the current investigation to show that both senses combined have a large influence over the perception we have of our body image.