- When we first smell a scent, it stimulates our olfactory bulbs and causes the genes of neurons in the limbic cortex, where emotions are processed, to change.
- So our olfactory experiences are stored as emotions in our brain, depending on whether these smells are perceived as pleasurable or not.
Once the smell is detected, different areas of the brain are activated. Proceeding from this principle, scientists have studied various brain mechanisms associated with the perception of odors. A team of researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases used electrical impulses to stimulate the olfactory lobes (or bulbs) of laboratory animals. Then they analyzed the activity of the olfactory cortex, where olfactory stimuli are processed.
“We already knew that there is a relationship between the olfactory bulb and the piriform cortex, which is part of the olfactory cortex, in the perception of odors.Dr. Christina Strauch, lead author of the study, says. But our goal was to dig deeper into the structures of the brain and uncover areas we had underestimated or neglected so far.”
According to this study published in the journal cerebral cortex, stimulation of the olfactory bulb led to a change in gene activity. This happened even in neurons of the limbic cortex, that is, in a functional unit responsible for processing feelings.
Perhaps these non-olfactory structures play a major role in storing olfactory experiences, as translator Christina Strauch. We conclude that rodents quickly classify odors that are perceived as pleasant or unpleasant while they are sniffed.”
Overall, the results demonstrated that the olfactory system works closely with the brain’s reward and aversion systems, both for learning and memory training, the researchers concluded.
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