Human Olfaction without Apparent Olfactory Bulbs
AuthorWeiss, T; Soroka, T; Gorodisky, L; Shushan, S; Snitz, K; Weissgross, R; Furman-Haran, E; Dhollander, T; Sobel, N
University of Melbourne Author/sDhollander, Thijs
AffiliationFlorey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsWeiss, T., Soroka, T., Gorodisky, L., Shushan, S., Snitz, K., Weissgross, R., Furman-Haran, E., Dhollander, T. & Sobel, N. (2020). Human Olfaction without Apparent Olfactory Bulbs. NEURON, 105 (1), pp.35-+. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2019.10.006.
Access StatusOpen Access
The olfactory bulbs (OBs) are the first site of odor representation in the mammalian brain, and their unique ultrastructure is considered a necessary substrate for spatiotemporal coding of smell. Given this, we were struck by the serendipitous observation at MRI of two otherwise healthy young left-handed women, yet with no apparent OBs. Standardized tests revealed normal odor awareness, detection, discrimination, identification, and representation. Functional MRI of these women's brains revealed that odorant-induced activity in piriform cortex, the primary OB target, was similar in its extent to that of intact controls. Finally, review of a public brain-MRI database with 1,113 participants (606 women) also tested for olfactory performance, uncovered olfaction without anatomically defined OBs in ∼0.6% of women and ∼4.25% of left-handed women. Thus, humans can perform the basic facets of olfaction without canonical OBs, implying extreme plasticity in the functional neuroanatomy of this sensory system.
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