During ordinary breathing and during sniffing of odors air currents are the chief factors concerned in the transportation of odorous particles to the olfactory membranes. The larger part of the inspired air and odor passes backward into the nasopharynx, and only a small part, deviated from this course, is directed to the superior meatuses and there affects the specific olfactory receptor cells. These receptor cells initiate the impulse which is transmitted to the olfactory centers in the brain.
The perception and identification of odors are conditional on stimulation of the receptor cells, which in turn depends on several factors: (1) a sufficient mass of odorous particles must come into contact with the olfactory receptors; (2) in order to produce an adequate stimulus, the stream of air carrying the odor must impinge on the olfactory membrane with a certain degree of force, and (3) the identification of many odors depends not
ELSBERG CA. THE NEWER ASPECTS OF OLFACTORY PHYSIOLOGY AND THEIR DIAGNOSTIC APPLICATIONS. Arch NeurPsych. 1937;37(2):223–236. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archneurpsyc.1937.02260140009001
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