A study has found new information that can change the way we perceive scents. Scientists have discovered that several people have a perfectly working sense of smell without the olfactory bulbs. These bulbs are thought to be responsible for us being able to smell.
So, a lack of these bulbs should make people unable to detect scents. This is called Anosmia. But researchers found several subjects who refute this long-accepted belief. All these subjects are women and also, left-handed. Men haven’t been found to exhibit this anomaly.
The discovery was completely an accident. The researchers were scanning people with a healthy sense of smell. Then, they found a woman with no olfactory bulbs at all. But she could smell perfectly well. This led scientists to scan other women’s brains. They searched the brain scans of 1,113 women from the public library. It was called the Human Connectome Project. And this phenomenon has been shown in 4% of left-handed women.
But the scientists still don’t have a clue as to why or how these women can still smell. This study has led to a myriad of questions. What function do the olfactory bulbs play in our brains? Before it was thought to recognize smells but now with this discovery, it can also be that the bulbs just locate the smells.
Other theories include possibly minuscule sized olfactory bulbs that weren’t detected in the scans. But if it were so – others question – why is their sense of smell not compromised at all? The subjects could clearly recognize scents as well as the next person with normal-sized olfactory bulbs.
Another theory has to do with the adaptivity of the brain. The human brain is such a complex organ that it can well be possible that it has learned to recognize smells without the presence of bulbs.
This won’t be the first time the brain has learned to be flexible and adapt. In Marseille, a man with a compressed cortex (the intelligence region of the brain) had average intelligence, comparable to others with a normal cortex.