The olfactory system is a set of sensors that help humans sniff out food, danger, and even love. Smells are the gateways to memories and can evoke powerful emotions even after prolonged dormancy. Studies suggest that the human olfactory system can discern up to a trillion scents. It's one of the most complex systems because it ties into the other senses, as well as the brain and organs. For example, the nose is called the guardian of the lungs. Researches continue to conduct studies about how it all works together.
The nasal cavity, ethmoid bone, nostrils, and mucus-covered tissue called the olfactory epithelium comprise the peripheral olfactory system. When someone inhales, chews, or swallows, odor molecules enter the peripheral pathway through the nasal cavity. The mucus dissolves the molecules and transmits the odor to the brain with the help of olfactory neurons. This process is called sensory transduction. The associative olfactory system, on the other hand, has more to do with processing pheromones.
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