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Abstract The olfactory system is a unique and important sense which has, however, been underrepresented in research. It plays a crucial role in food selection and reproduction, ensuring survival for both the individual and the species. The olfactory system is unique compared to the other senses in that, among other things, information is not relayed via the thalamus, but instead projected directly to cortical regions such as the orbitofrontal cortex. This article describes the information processing in the olfactory system from the olfactory epithelium to the cortical projection areas, based on translational research and imaging studies, and details the multimodal interactions between olfaction and gustation. Equally, we describe the breakdown of the sense of smell that can be devastating and is implicated in anhedonia, the lack of pleasure, a key feature of mental illness.

Original publication





Book title

Brain Mapping


Academic Press

Publication Date



347 - 355


Food, Hedonia, Multimodal, Olfaction, Olfactory bulb, Orbitofrontal cortex, Piriform cortex, Primary olfactory cortex