Bilateral and unilateral odor processing and odor perception

Tal Dalal, Nitin Gupta, Rafi Haddad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Imagine smelling a novel perfume with only one nostril and then smelling it again with the other nostril. Clearly, you can tell that it is the same perfume both times. This simple experiment demonstrates that odor information is shared across both hemispheres to enable perceptual unity. In many sensory systems, perceptual unity is believed to be mediated by inter-hemispheric connections between iso-functional cortical regions. However, in the olfactory system, the underlying neural mechanisms that enable this coordination are unclear because the two olfactory cortices are not topographically organized and do not seem to have homotypic inter-hemispheric mapping. This review presents recent advances in determining which aspects of odor information are processed unilaterally or bilaterally, and how odor information is shared across the two hemispheres. We argue that understanding the mechanisms of inter-hemispheric coordination can provide valuable insights that are hard to achieve when focusing on one hemisphere alone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number150
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020

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