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How We Smell

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This GIF shows how a whiff of smelly air travels through the human nose. The GIF follows odor particles (the colored dots) on their journey through the nasal cavity, or passageways behind the nose. Some of the particles travel up toward an area in the nasal cavity where odor-sensing cells are located (this area is marked in white below the eye). Only a few particles are needed to trigger the sense of smell. The remaining particles travel down toward the lungs (through the pink circle marked at lower right) and are eventually breathed out.

Source: NIDCD grantee Kai Zhao, Ph.D., Ohio State University (NIDCD grant RO1DC013626), and Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Media and Public Relations

An animated GIF depicting the path of scent particles through the nasal passages.

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Last Updated Date: 
August 22, 2018