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Ch15 Textbook Notes

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University of Toronto St. George
Christine Burton

CHAPTER 15 THE CHEMICAL SENSES Smell olfaction and tastemolecule detectors because they endow gas and liquid molecules with distinctive smells and tastesOften seen as gatekeepers They o Identify things that the body needs for survival and thus should be consumed o Detect things that would be bad for the body and thus should be rejected o Function is aided by an affectiveemotional componentThings that are bad often taste or smell unpleasantNeurogenesis constant renewal of receptors unique to olfactory and taste o 57 weeks for olfactory receptors 12 weeks for taste receptorsThe Olfactory System Functions of OlfactionMacrosmatic having a keen sense of smell that is important for survival many animalsMicrosmatic having a less keen sense of smell that isnt crucial to survival humansPheromones chemical signals released b an individual that affect the physiology and behaviour of other individuals o SternMcClintock 1998 Underarm secretions taken from donor women in the initial phase of their menstrual cycle shorted recipients cyclesSecretions from the ovulatory phase lengthened cyclesAnosmia loss of the ability to smell as a result of injury or infectionDetecting OdoursDetection threshold for odour is the lowest concentration at which an odorant can be detectedMethod measuring the detection threshold o Forcedchoice method presenting blocks of two trialsOne contains a weak odorant the other contains no odorantTask is to indicate which trial has a stronger smellHuman olfactory receptors are as sensitive as any animals but humans have far fewer receptorsOlfactometre presents olfactory stimuli with great precision o Cain 1977 Found the difference threshold averaged 11Identifying OdoursRecognition threshold the concentration at which quality can be recognizedEven though humans can discriminate between many different odours it is difficult to accurately identify specific odours o Cain 1980 knowing the correct label for the odour actually seems to transform our perception into that odourTrouble results from an inability to retrieve the odours name from our memoryThe Puzzle of Olfactory Quality
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