Researchers find that one sniff will do for odor discrimination
Rats inhabit a world of smells far beyond our poor powers to discriminate. Thousands of odors that smell the same to us, or that we cannot perceive at all, are quickly recognizable as distinct and meaningful odors to rodents and other animals in which the Nose Knows. But just how quick?
By measuring the speed of smell, researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have now found that unlike humans, rats can tell two very similar odors apart with just one sniff. And because its not the Nose that Knows, but rather the brain, such studies of how animals can rapidly and accurately discriminate odors are revealing vital new information about how the human brain processes information, guides behavior, and even enables us to be consciously aware of our own (though less smelly) world, and our own selves.
Peter Sherwood | EurekAlert!
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