Several processes work together to invent our sense of smell. Our nose will capture the molecules in the air and from there, our brain will try to identify and sort the different odors that float in the air. Having a good sense of smell is very helpful, but what is the whole process of feeling?
In general, scientists know that odor particles first enter the nasal cavity, where odor receptors expressed by olfactory receptor neurons bind to sensory tissues. The olfactory bulb, a structure located in the mammalian forebrain, then processes the information sent by the receptors.
Then, the bulb sends this information to several higher-order brain areas, including the cerebral cortex. The olfactory output messages are then analyzed and disseminated in the brain before being returned to the bulb in a feedback loop.
But we do not yet have a complete understanding of what is happening in every aspect of our sense of smell. That is, what kind of circuit does our brain use to understand the signals sent to it through the nose?