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Olfaction allows us to identify food, experience sensual pleasures like the smell of flowers, as well as detect signs of danger (spoiled food, chemical hazards).
Smells (odorants) are sensed by the olfactory epithelium located in the nasal cavity and first processed by the olfactory bulb. The odorant must possess certain molecular properties–it must be water soluble and have high vapor pressure and low polarity–in order to interact with the olfactory receptors and produce signals that can be interpreted as odor. The olfactory sense is able to distinguish among an almost infinite number of chemical compounds.
The mucous lipids assist in transporting the odorant molecules. Each olfactory receptor neuron has 8-20 cilia that are whip-like extensions (they mark the beginning of sensory transduction). Olfactory Receptors OLFACTORY BULB BONE EPITHELIAL CELL CILIA NERVE FIBER MITRAL CELL CHEMO-RECEPTOR
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