Olfactory Epithelium

Definition - What does Olfactory Epithelium mean?

The olfactory epithelium is a tissue which is located inside the nasal cavity and used in our sense of smell. It can be found lying on the roof of the nasal cavity about 3 inches behind the nostrils. It connects the sense of smell through the mouth. It has the ability to allow humans to identify up to 10,000 different aromas.

WineFrog explains Olfactory Epithelium

The olfactory epithelium is made up of neurons and supporting cells which line half of the nasal cavities. The neurons are receptors that are bipolar cells which can process olfactory information. The receptors themselves are protrusions formed by many microvilli, called olfactory cilia that extend into a mucus layer.

This mucus controls the ionic milieu of the cilia, produced by secretory specializations throughout the epithelium. Through the mucous, the cilia is able to trap aromas and even very small molecules of aromas, some of which can even be tasted via the olfactory epithelium tissue.

In the case of tasting wine, this region of our nasal cavity is key to picking up and registering aromas and the bouquet of a wine. It also involves the sense of taste as what an individual can smell is related to what they can taste. This the region where tertiary aromas can be sensed.

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