The mammalian olfactory system senses an almost unlimited number of chemical stimuli and initiates a process of neural recognition that influences nearly every aspect of life. This review examines the organizational principles underlying the recognition of olfactory stimuli. The olfactory system is composed of a number of distinct subsystems that can be distinguished by the location of their sensory neurons in the nasal cavity, the receptors they use to detect chemosensory stimuli, the signaling mechanisms they employ to transduce those stimuli, and their axonal projections to specific regions of the olfactory forebrain. An integrative approach that includes gene targeting methods, optical and electrophysiological recording, and behavioral analysis has helped to elucidate the functional significance of this subsystem organization for the sense of smell.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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