Each nostril may smell completely different from the other!
If you’ve ever watched a 3D movie with these fancy glasses, you’ve probably noticed how different the movie looks through the individual red and blue lenses. One moves some details to one side, while the other pulls things to the other side. But when put together, they combine nicely to deliver a 3D movie experience.
We may have just discovered that our noses probably do something similar too! Our sense of smell, which is often overshadowed by vision and hearing, has come under the spotlight in a recent study, unveiling the surprising independence of our nostrils and how our brain processes the smells around us.
By examining ten patients with epilepsy using implanted brain electrodes to detect brain activity, the research aims to understand how information from each nostril is processed in the human olfactory system.
Interestingly, the study found that the same scent led to a slight difference in brain activity from each nostril, meaning that there may actually be a difference in the way we perceive odors from each nostril.
Additionally, when participants used both nostrils to smell objects, the researchers found that they generated two distinct bursts of brain activity with a small delay between each other, suggesting that one nostril may be sending signals slightly before the other.
We already know that having two nostrils enhances our ability to recognize odors more quickly, which parallels the advantages of having eyes and ears. This small delay in information and the difference in brain activity in the nostril may be part of the process that enables this acceleration.
Previous studies have shown that mice can “smell in stereo,” which helps them pinpoint where a scent might be coming from. This research attempts to ascertain whether we are able to share this ability.
As researchers delve deeper into the mysteries of double nostrils, the study opens new ways to explore how our brains navigate and make sense of complex information gathered from our environment.
The results of this study were published in Current biology It can be accessed here.
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