Sniffing out the contributions of the olfactory tubercle to the sense of smell: hedonics, sensory integration, and more?

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 Jan;35(3):655-68. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.08.004. Epub 2010 Aug 26.


Since its designation in 1896 as a putative olfactory structure, the olfactory tubercle has received little attention in terms of elucidating its role in the processing and perception of odors. Instead, research on the olfactory tubercle has mostly focused on its relationship with the reward system. Here we provide a comprehensive review of research on the olfactory tubercle-with an emphasis on the likely role of this region in olfactory processing and its contributions to perception. Further, we propose several testable hypotheses regarding the likely involvement of the olfactory tubercle in both basic (odor detection, discrimination, parallel processing of olfactory information) and higher-order (social odor processing, hedonics, multi-modal integration) functions. Together, the information within this review highlights an understudied yet potentially critical component in central odor processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Odorants
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology*