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A recent study has revealed that each human nostril operates on its own, detecting scents from the environment individually. This provides further insight into how the brain handles sensory information.
A recent study, featured in the journal Current Biology, revealed that the left and right nostrils have separate olfactory abilities. The brain processes signals from each nostril slightly differently, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of one’s environment.
Researchers, including those from the University of Pennsylvania, state that although there has been significant research on how the olfactory system responds to smells, there is still limited understanding of how information from both nostrils is processed and distinguished in the human olfactory system.
During the research, researchers evaluated 10 individuals with epilepsy who had electrodes surgically implanted in their brains.
The researchers administered three different scents, along with a control of pure scent, into each nostril separately and then together.
The participants were then instructed to identify the smell in each trial and indicate which nostril they used.
In this procedure, scientists utilized electrodes to gather information on the brain’s function.
Researchers specifically studied the functioning of the piriform cortex (PC) in the brain, which is responsible for processing and understanding the sense of smell.
Scientists discovered that the brain activity was comparable, but not identical, when the same scent was administered to both nostrils.
Using both nostrils to smell resulted in two distinct bursts of brain activity, separated by a short amount of time. This suggests that there is always some degree of individual functioning in each nostril.
Researchers state that odor information is separated in time in the piriform cortex of the human brain, with input from both nostrils.
Scientists say that the most recent research has significant implications for further understanding the workings of the brain in regards to processing scents.
This demonstrates that the brain separates signals in time to maintain separate representations of odor information from each nostril.