Sensicality of sensing

One interesting thing that we found out on this week’s lecture is how closely connected the nose is with the brain. Just a short distance from the nose into the nasal cavity, there exists a region of olfactory cells that are neurons themselves. These neurons send a signal to the forebrain with just a few intermediate steps. Due to the small number of intermediate steps in this pathway, we started thinking of cocaine. Does this direct pathway explain the heightened effects when sniffing cocaine when compared to other forms of consumption? We are also wondering, if we should have other forms of medication that should be sniffed. Would how well your sense of smell works correlate with the effectiveness of such medication.

Concerning eyes, the layers of cells seemed to be completely upside-down. At first, this seems counter-intuitive, but reading about how it works made it more sensical. The layers between the photoreceptors and the incoming light are nearly transparent, leading to only minimal interference of light, and the layer beneath is critical for maintaining the photoreceptors. This layer also absorbs any light that passes through the receptors, preventing interference from reflections.

When it comes to taste, it is interesting to learn we have a distinct taste for umami. It is therefore interesting that glutamate, which is the defining taste of umami, has a bad reputation in some countries. It supposedly makes you over-weight, and can give you allergy-like symptoms to the point where companies actively advertise their products as being “glutamate-free”. It makes no sense given that many common product like meat and tomatoes have glutamate. Also, glutamate contributes to the good taste in food, so avoiding it seems unsensical given no negative effects of glutamate have been found.

In addition to the lecture, we had a virtual excursion to AMI. It was cool to get introduced to the laboratories and the equipment being used for neuroscience research here at Aalto.

Finally a video as usual: