Olfactory Pathway - Nerve and Tracts
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The specialized olfactory receptor neurons of the olfactory nerve are located in the olfactory mucosa of the upper parts of the nasal cavity. The olfactory nerves consist of a collection of many sensory nerve fibers that extend from the olfactory epithelium to the olfactory bulb, passing through the many openings of the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone, a sieve-like structure.
The sense of smell (olfaction) arises from the stimulation of receptors by small molecules in inspired air of varying spatial, chemical, and electrical properties that reach the nasal epithelium in the nasal cavity during inhalation. These stimulants are transduced into electrical activity in the olfactory neurons, which then transmit these impulses to the olfactory bulb and from there to the rest of the central nervous system via the olfactory tract.
The olfactory nerve is the shortest of the twelve cranial nerves and, similar to the optic nerve, does not emanate from the brainstem.