The rules of formation of the olfactory representations found in the orbitofrontal cortex olfactory areas in primates

Chem Senses. 2001 Jun;26(5):595-604. doi: 10.1093/chemse/26.5.595.


Approximately 35% of neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex taste and olfactory areas with olfactory responses provide a representation of odour that depends on the taste with which the odour has been associated previously. This representation is produced by a slowly acting learning mechanism that learns associations between odour and taste. Other neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex respond to both the odour and to the mouth feel of fat. The representation of odour thus moves for at least some neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex beyond the domain of physico-chemical properties of the odours to a domain where the ingestion-related significance of the odour determines the representation provided. Olfactory neurons in the primate orbitofrontal cortex decrease their responses to a food eaten to satiety, but remain responsive to other foods, thus contributing to a mechanism for olfactory sensory-specific satiety. It has been shown in neuroimaging studies that the human orbitofrontal cortex provides a representation of the pleasantness of odour, in that the activation produced by the odour of a food eaten to satiety decreases relative to another food-related odour not eaten in the meal. In the same general area there is a representation of the pleasantness of the smell, taste and texture of a whole food, in that activation in this area decreases to a food eaten to satiety, but not to a food that has not been eaten in the meal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Frontal Lobe / cytology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Mouth / physiology
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Odorants / analysis*
  • Olfactory Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Primates / physiology*
  • Receptors, Odorant / chemistry
  • Receptors, Odorant / physiology
  • Satiety Response / physiology
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Receptors, Odorant