Our sense of smell can be very sharp, especially when we go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. The grocery list finds our pocket as our noses lead us down the aromatic aisles. Indeed, our noses will bring us to delicious food whether at parties or family functions, even though we may have recently eaten.
Is there a connection between our sense of smell and obesity as well as eating disorders? Indeed, Dr. Jeremy McIntyre, who studies the biology of smell at the University of Florida wants to know.
Sense Of Smell: The Biology Of It
The hypothalamus is a brain region known for its role in hunger and energy balance. Studies suggest that the hypothalamus relays information about a vertebrate’s (includes humans) current metabolic state and appetite to the olfactory bulb. Brain cells then integrate this information with incoming food odor signals, and influence our response to the smell.
Sense Of Smell: Brain Cells Talk, We Eat
Cells talk among themselves to determine what information goes onto the brain. When one of their signal-receiving arms activates, it can switch others off or on, much like circuits on a circuit board. Dr.McIntyre and his team is now exploring this circuit board in an effort to map more precisely the lines of the communication among the hypothalamus, olfactory bulb, and nerve cells in the nose. Such research will be important in understanding how these interactions might contribute to eating disorders, obesity, or even just that “small” midnight snack.
Watch this informative video on the sense of smell.