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Olfaction.


ABSTRACT: Olfaction represents an ancient, evolutionarily critical physiologic system. In humans, chemosensation mediates safety, nutrition, sensation of pleasure, and general well-being. Factors that affect human olfaction included structural aspects of the nasal cavity that can modulate airflow and therefore odorant access to the olfactory cleft, and inflammatory disease, which can affect both airflow as well as olfactory nerve function. After signals are generated, olfactory information is processed and coded in the olfactory bulb and disseminated to several areas in the brain. The discovery of olfactory receptors by Axel and Buck sparked greater understanding of the molecular basis of olfaction. However, the precise mechanisms used by this system are still under great scrutiny due to the complexity of understanding how an enormous number of chemically diverse odorant molecules are coded into signals understood by the brain. Additionally, it has been challenging to dissect olfactory sensation due to the multiple areas of areas of the brain that receive and modulate this information. Consequently, our knowledge of olfactory dysfunction in humans remains primitive. Aging represents the major cause of loss of smell, although a number of clinical and environmental factors are thought to affect chemosensory function. Treatment options focus on reducing sinonasal inflammation when present, ruling out other treatable causes, and counseling patients on safety measures.

SUBMITTER: Pinto JM 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC3131780 | BioStudies | 2011-01-01T00:00:00Z

SECONDARY ACCESSION(S): 209900

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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