|A loss of smell can be the result of disease or aging, |
Human sense of smell is not easily explained or treated, the authors suggest.
The olfactory bulb, a structure beneath the frontal cortex that receives nerve impulses from the nose, also has direct connections to the amygdala, which controls emotions and physiology, and to higher-order regions like the prefrontal cortex, involved in cognition and planning.
"Unlike information from your eyes and ears that has gone through many connections to reach the frontal cortex, the olfactory system is just two connections away," says Donald A. Wilson, PhD, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center and senior research scientist at the Emotional Brain Institute at Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, who led the study.
"The result is an immediate pathway from the environment through our nose to our memory."
Loss of smell linked to disease, aging
Many illnesses can bring about a loss of smell, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia, and it is also often associated with normal aging.
While the exact cause remains unknown, the researchers discovered the part of the brain where loss of smell may happen, and they showed in the lab rat study that training can affect it for better or for worse.
“In some cases it may be a 'use it or lose it' phenomenon," says Dr. Wilson, adding that smell training therapies have the potential to restore smell function in some cases.
The study’s findings are published online in Nature Neuroscience.
Source: New York University
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