The way chemistry influences human communication is one of the most intriguing and debated topics. More specifically, the nature of chemo signals and their sphere of influence on social interaction is important to understanding human behaviour.
POTION aims to investigate meaningful social interaction, combining new knowledge about the chemical composition of human social chemo signals with a novel olfactory-based technology designed to drive social behaviour.
The first challenge is analysing human chemo signals to characterise the chemicals causing happiness and fear. This is because these emotions drive approach and avoidance behaviour, i.e., the fundamental building blocks of social interaction between individuals of the same species.
Results of this analysis will be used to artificially synthesise the chemo signals of these two emotions, providing the basis of an innovative computer-controlled odour delivery system able to drive the approach-avoidance social strategy. This breakthrough device will be controlled in a closed loop and the social-emotional state of the subjects will be evaluated through a novel computational neural model.
The POTION system will be applied and tested in both social and clinical scenarios.
In the social scenarios, the project aims to reveal how olfaction clues work in managing feelings of trust, presence and inclusion, in virtual, real, and social media contexts.
In the clinical scenario, POTION will propose a new human chemo signal-based diagnosis and treatment for social anxiety, phobias and depression, which are known to impair social functioning.
POTION will provide further insight into the fundamental background of human behaviour. The goal is to help establish healthy social relationships through trust, leading to an overall improvement in wellbeing.