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Nat Neurosci. 2004 Apr;7(4):337-8. Epub 2004 Mar 21.

A psychophysical test of the vibration theory of olfaction.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, Box 63, New York New York, 10021, USA.


At present, no satisfactory theory exists to explain how a given molecule results in the perception of a particular smell. One theory is that olfactory sensory neurons detect intramolecular vibrations of the odorous molecule. We used psychophysical methods in humans to test this vibration theory of olfaction and found no evidence to support it.

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