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The Olfactory System

Your nose knows!

Christy Odom

on 6 May 2011

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Transcript of The Olfactory System

What it is! If you hadn't already guessed, it's the sensory system used for olfaction, or the sense of smell How it works! Once divided into two parts, the olfactory system serves two different functions. Peripheral Central The main olfactory system detects odorants that are inhaled through the nose In the central nervous system, odors are represented as patterns of neural activity " . " " . " . The Olfactory System (it's pretty neat) How do we smell? Anything and everything that is volatile, or able to evaporate, gives off a smell through microscopic molecules that go into your nose and through the process of olfaction. Non volatile objects have no smell The science behind it, however, goes a little something like this... A group of neurons rests in the nasal passage behind the nose, out in the open where they can come into contact with all different sorts of scents and smells cilia which scent molecules can bind to, helping you to discern a particular smell! These neurons are covered in a layer of a hair-like substance called But that's just the beginning! The magnificent world of scent has so much to be explored. Aromatherapy is just one of the many types of smell sciences that works in amazing ways! Aromatherapy acts as a sort of sensory medicine that is said to affect different parts of the brain by stimulating it with different smells, also known as essential oils. The sense of smell can also be a direct link to your memories, and can help you to recollect instances completely forgotten about by all other senses. The power of olfaction also differs in men and women , with several different studies showing that women, even as young as newborn infants, have a more developed sense of smell. The average human nose can detect 10,000 different smells, which might seem impressive if you didn't compare our nose power to that of a dog which has 25 times more olfactory receptors than humans. Apart from all of the good things about smell, there are several scent disorders that can have serious effects on the human body and the way the brain functions. Anosmia is, essentially, the inability to perceive particular odors or any at all. This can be temporary or permanent and may only prevent one from smelling a singular smell. Often times, the loss of smell can lead to depression or to cause normally safe sitations to be dangerous, such as being unable to identify spoiled food or smell smoke. The Science of Smell It's the most underrated sense that we have, but by far the most interesting one. Although it is extraordinary by itself, it also affects another sense by 75%! Taste! Phantosmia, or parosmia, are two scent disorders that warp one's sense of smell. Phantosmia is when one smells something that is definitely not there, and can be the symptom of an undiscovered brain tumor or even epilepsy. Although, it is not always serious. Parosmia is when one smells something that is there but experiences it in a distorted manner, such as smelling trash in the place of fruit. The cause of these disorders is due to specific olfactory pathway damage, where scent molecules bind with neurons in the olfactory epithelium. Any interference with this process can cause problems. Things you may not know about smell! Everyone has a unique smell, except for identical twins, which is determined by a variety of factors such as diet, environment, your emotional state, skin type, and even the weather! We can't smell as well in the morning as we can throughout the rest of the day. We actually smell with our brains, not our noses. The ability to smell decreases immensely in men after their mid-50s, a decade earlier than in women. Websites Used http://www.everythingsmells.com/smellyfacts.html http://www.thesoslab.com/facts-part-1.asp http://express.howstuffworks.com/smell-this.htm http://www.sirc.org/publik/smell_human.html http://www.aromadictionary.com/articles/senseofsmell_article.html
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