How mammal brains identify various smells

Researchers Shyam Srinivasan and Charles Stevens found that approximately six types of mammals, from mice to cats, distinguish odours in almost the same way by using circuitry in the brain. The study, published in the journal Current Biology , revealed that the size of each of the three components of the neural network for olfaction scales about the same for each species, starting with receptors in the nose that transmit signals to a cluster of neurons in the front of the brain called the olfactory bulb which then relay the signals to the piriform cortex, a “higher functioning” region, for odour identification. “These three stages scale with each other,”said Mr. Srinivasan. “The connectivity parameters and the relationship between different stages of the olfactory circuit are conserved across mammals, suggesting that evolution has used the same design for the circuit across species, but just changed the size to fit the animals’ environmental niche,” said Mr. Stevens.

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