Terms to know about taste and smell




Something you smell

Olfactory epithelium

The tissue in the nose which contains scent-detecting cells

Olfactory hairs

The dendrites of the scent-detecting cells. Don't mix them up with inner ear hair cells or hair follicles!

Cribiform plate

The plate of bone under the olfactory epithelium. Damage to it can cause loss of the sense of smell

Olfactory nerves

The axons connecting the scent-detecting cells to the olfactory bulb. They run through the cribiform plate

Olfactory bulb

The part of the brain which synapses with the scent-detecting cells

Olfactory cortex

The part of the brain that processes olfactory impulses; on the medial side of the temporal lobe

Olfactory tract

The axons connecting the olfactory bulb with the olfactory cortex




Something you taste. You should know how the five different tastes make the taste buds fire.

Taste buds

The epithelium containing sensory cells that detect tastants

Facial and glossopharyngeal

The nerves that carry taste signals to the brain

Taste cortex

In the frontal lobe, under the anterior end of the temporal lobe




makes taste buds fire by Na+ diffusing in through Na+ channels


makes taste buds fire by H+ diffusing into the cells

Sweet, Umami, Bitter

make taste buds fire by fastening to receptors and activating a G protein mechanism