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The Working of Olfactory Memory of the Brain

Odors are often held responsible for creation of memories in human brain. The neuroscientists Dr. Christina Strauch and Prof Dr. Denise Manahan-Vaughan from the Ruhr-University Bochum conducted a research to find out that which part of the brain area stores odours as long-term memories.

Piriform cortex, which forms a part of the olfactory brain, is able to store memories associated with odors. The scientists examined the piriform cortex of rats to find out if it can store memories for more than 4 hours. They induced electrical impulses using various stimulation protocols with different intensity and pulses. These protocols induced long term effects in hippocampus but not in piriform cortex. Hippocampus is another part of the brain that is responsible for long term memories. They then stimulated the orbitofrontal cortex. Orbitofrontal cortex is a higher brain area which helps in making discrimination of sensory experiences. This time the stimulation led to desired change in the piriform cortex. Therefore, the scientists concluded that piriform cortex can store long term memories. But, that becomes possible only when the orbitofrontal cortex- a higher brain area, provides an instruction to the piriform cortex that an event has to be stored as a long term memory.

By: Anuja Arora


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