The study of human olfaction is complicated by the myriad of processing demands in conscious perceptual and emotional experiences of odors. Combining functional magnetic resonance imaging with convergent multivariate network analyses, we examined the spatiotemporal behavior of olfactory-generated blood-oxygenated-level-dependent signal in healthy adults. The experimental functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) paradigm was found to offset the limitations of olfactory habituation effects and permitted the identification of five functional networks. Analysis delineated separable neuronal circuits that were spatially centered in the primary olfactory cortex, striatum, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, rostral prefrontal cortex/anterior cingulate, and parietal-occipital junction. We hypothesize that these functional networks subserve primary perceptual, affective/motivational, and higher order olfactory-related cognitive processes. Results provided direct evidence for the existence of parallel networks with top-down modulation for olfactory processing and clearly distinguished brain activations that were sniffing-related versus odor-related. A comprehensive neurocognitive model for olfaction is presented that may be applied to broader translational studies of olfactory function, aging, and neurological disease.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology