The Mouse Olfactory System
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For mice the olfactory system is a very important resource for exploration of the environment and for reproductive behavior. The olfactory system consists of two parts defined by the type and location of the primary sensory neurons and by a different connectivity pattern. The main olfactory bulb (MOB) system receives signals from the main olfactory epithelium located in the upper nasal cavity near to the skull base. The vomeronasal system disposes of the vomeronasal organ as the peripheral receptive system. It is located on either side of the nasal septum in the ventral nasal meatus. By contrast to the MOB system, the vomeronasal signals project to the accessory olfactory bulb (AOB) located dorsal of the MOB.
The MOB system reaches – among other structures – the piriform (olfactory cortex) and eventually the entorhinal cortex. The main target of the AOB system is the medial anterior and posterior cortical amygdala. Both systems project back to the olfactory bulbs. While the MOB system is designed to perceive and transmit olfactory stimuli, the vomeronasal system integrates olfactory perception (“pheromones”) into mating and sexual behavior.
KeywordsOlfactory bulb Piriform cortex Vomeronasal organ Cortical amygdala Entorhinal cortex Hypothalamus
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