Title: Deconstructing Smell
Women and Children's Centre
Olav Kyrres St. 11 (Øya)
Friday 16 March – 14:30
How do we differentiate thousands of distinct odours and how do our brains perceive and remember them? Humans and other mammals detect as many as 10,000 or more chemicals in the external environment – but how do they actually do it? The brain must also translate the detection of those chemicals into different smells, such as rose or garlic. Finally, pheromones and other social cues elicit hormonal changes and instinctive behaviours in animals. The illumination of the neural circuits underlying these effects may ultimately provide clues to molecular mechanisms that influence basic drives and emotional states in humans.
Linda B. Buck won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with her colleague Richard Axel in 2004 for the discovery of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system. Buck used the odour receptor genes to figure out how the identities of different odours are encoded at the molecular level and in the brain to produce the perception of distinct odours. She is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an Affiliate Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington.