Scent and Taste
The chemical senses of olfaction taste are still in large part mysteries to physiologists.
Even more interesting is the fact that there has been some controversy injected by an alternate hypothesis of the mechanisms by which odorants are detected by olfactory receptors.
If you want to explore the worlds of scent,taste, and how they interact, you'll be glad you did! Below are some resources that may help you sort things out in the current world of olfactory and gustatory science.
The Scent of Desire
The Emperor of Scent
Chandler Burr's biography of Luca Turin, the controversial figure who has proposed an alternate theory of the mechanism of olfaction. Turin also wrote his own book explaining his ideas about the "vibration" theory of olfactory dedection. Click here for more on both books and this alternative view of how smell works.
Nobel Prize in Smell?
The 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to a pair of researchers who discovered some of the basic mechanisms of olfaction. Check out the Nobel website for FREE resources you can use in your teaching, including images.
Anatomy & Physiology Textbook
The latest edition of my textbook Anatomy & Physiology includes the essentials of current concepts in physiology. Here are just a few of the things you may not find in similar textbooks:
- Retronasal olfaction and its role in the perception of flavor. Description and diagram of the labeled-line model of how different taste modalities are encoded in the nerve pathways—the most current theory.
- Of course, we removed the classic (but outdated) taste bud map in favor of the modern idea that the taste receptor cell types are mixed and located together in the same areas of the tongue.
- There are more than the "famous four" taste modalities (salt, sour, sweet, bitter). For example, umami (glutamate) and perhaps others. And there may be more than one type of "sour" and other modalities.
- Discussion and diagram of the vomeronasal organ (VNO) and hypotheses of its role in detection of human pheromones (smell signals).
- Cranial nerve zero (try to write that with Roman numerals!)—also called the terminal nerve. This nerve may have an important role in detection and transmission of pheromones or other olfactory signals.
- . . . and more . . . check it out!