Identifying the sweet smell of success

Benjamin Auffarth, Bernhard Kaplan, Anders Lansner [creativecommons license] via Wikimedia Commons

Olfaction—the sense of smell—may be the oldest and least well understood of the five senses. It alerts us to danger, food and other important matters and is closely linked with brain systems involved in emotion, mood, memory, learning and behavior. Stated in simple terms, our understanding of olfaction is as follows: an odorant activates neurons in the olfactory epithelium that project axons within the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb, activating mitral cells that in turn send information to the olfactory cortex and other neural processing areas. Now, new research from scientists at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (Aurora) and the University of Utah (Salt Lake City) suggests that the process is not unidirectional but rather includes a ‘back and forth’ interaction between the olfactory bulb and the olfactory cortex.

Lab Anim. (NY) 40, 135 (2011).
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