The organ of olfaction

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Olfactory sensation belongs to the chemical senses, in particular for the detection of volatile molecules that are traveling freely in the atmosphere. Conversely, the other main chemical sensory function, taste, is based on the detection of compounds that are dissolved in liquid. This difference, however, is not as sharp as it appears because in both cases the molecules are ultimately dissolved in a mucous film overlying the receptor cells. If anything, taste and smell are far more separated by the way their signals reach the brain: olfactory information is the only modality in vertebrate animals that can access the telencephalon directly. All the other sensory inputs, taste included, reach the telencephalic centers via a diencephalic (thalamic) relay. This situation underscores the paramount importance of odor signals in the animal kingdom and, albeit to a lesser degree, also in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAtlas of the Sensory Organs
Subtitle of host publicationFunctional and Clinical Anatomy
PublisherHumana Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)1592598498, 9781588294128
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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  • Cite this

    Csillag, A. (2005). The organ of olfaction. In Atlas of the Sensory Organs: Functional and Clinical Anatomy (pp. 165-185). Humana Press.