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Chemistry Of Taste And Smell Essay

1485 words - 6 pages

The human body does amazing things on a daily basis. All the senses that the body uses consists of nerves, neurotransmitters and the brain decodes the messages that was received. Smell is the passing of odorants through the nose, received by the olfactory cells, and are sent directly to the brain. Taste is the weakest of the five senses but it is the sensory function of the central nervous system( The Science of Taste and Smell). We taste and smell things every day but little do most people know that these two senses work together to make life even more satisfactory!
Scientists believe that smell was prominent during the caveman era. It was used to sense when to mate, for hunting, and other things that were essentials to their everyday living. When babies are first born they can recognize their mother by their smell and even mothers can recognize their child by the smell of the clothes they wear. Now we use smell for pleasurable things like perfumes, foods, and deodorizers. Smell is connected directly to the brain making it one of the strongest senses of the body. At one point scientists thought that smell only consisted of 7 different specific fragrances. In reality smells are even more complicated than they seem. Each odor is made up of different combinations of more than one type of molecule( The Senses). For example, when you smell a banana you are inhaling one of the many esters. Ester is a molecule that has a carbon double bonded to an oxygen and bonded to another oxygen that is bonded with another carbon. Here is a couple of examples of ester products in this image shown. The specific ester in the banana is called isoamyl acetate. The chemical formula is CH3COOCH2CH2CH(CH3)2. Another example of an odorant is Vanilla. Vanilla’s modern name is very similar to the scientific name which is Vanillin(Chemistry of Smell).
When the odorants ( smell molecules) enters the nose it dissolves in mucus and sinks down to the olfactory epithelium which is made of millions of tiny receptor neurons. Cilia, a protruding knob that is in the middle of the neurons,receives the odorant and sends it directly to the part of the brain called the olfactory bulb. In fact cilia is the only part of the brain that is visible outside of the skull(The Science of Taste and Smell). The Olfactory Bulb is located next to the Hippocampus: the function of the hippocampus is to store memories. Since these two parts of the brain are closely linked smell is often associated with memories(Why Can Smells Unlock Forgotten Memories?). For example when I used to go down to the river with my family my mom would always have Coppertone sunscreen on to prevent sunburn. Now when I smell sunscreen , I think back to that time and think of my mother.
Even though the mouth is close to the brain too it is the weakest of the senses. The human tongue has approximately ten thousand taste buds each of which are consisted of fifty to a hundred and fifty taste receptors. Receptors are...

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