A psychophysical test of the vibration theory of olfaction

  title={A psychophysical test of the vibration theory of olfaction},
  author={Andreas Keller and Leslie B. Vosshall},
  journal={Nature Neuroscience},
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. 
Status of the Vibrational Theory of Olfaction
This work is intended to convey to the reader an up-to-date account of the vibrational theory of olfaction, both the historical iterations as well as the present iteration, to give a chronological account of both theoretical and experimental studies on the topic.
Olfaction is a chemical sense, not a spectral sense
The discrimination of normal and deuterated odorants by flies is a clear and convincing finding, but such isotope effects do not prove that the animals are sensing infrared molecular vibrations using inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy (IETS).
Against Vibration Theory of Olfaction BSE 656 A-Neurobiology
Beyond that, socalled peri-receptor events, notably implying proteins present in the olfactory mucus, likely contribute to the subtlety of the authors' perception by modulating how the quality, the quantity and the kinetics of the odourant signal are coded.
Measuring smells
Testing the Vibrational Theory of Olfaction: A Bio-organic Chemistry Laboratory Experiment Using Hooke’s Law and Chirality
A guided-inquiry laboratory experiment is described to test the vibrational theory of olfaction according to which a molecule’s vibrations determine its odor, and two key predictions of this theory were tested.
Implausibility of the vibrational theory of olfaction
The vibrational theory of olfaction posits detection of odorants through their vibrational frequencies rather than solely through “hand-in-glove” substrate/enzyme-like odorant–odorant receptor (OR) interactions, but there is no evidence for differentiation at the molecular level.
Laying a controversial smell theory to rest
  • L. Vosshall
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2015
A sophisticated multidisciplinary attack on the central tenets of the vibration theory of smell is mounted using synthetic organic chemistry, heterologous expression of ORs, and theoretical considerations to find no evidence to support the vibration Theory of smell.
Molecular recognition in olfaction
An overview of recent ideas and data is presented with a view to summarising what is known, and what has yet to be determined, about the mechanism by which the chemical identity of odourants is established by olfactory receptors.
Smelling matter
Molecular Structure Theory is offered as an account of smells, which can explain the nature of the external object of olfactory perception, what the authors experience as Olfactory objects, and what determines the o aroma quality of smells by which they can demarcate the spatiotemporal boundaries of smells.
Olfaction: the physics of how smell works?
Smell is a physical process used by us all, but fully understood by none. A physicist seeks to understand the mysterious phenomena of nature and so it is natural to apply physics to this problem.


A spectroscopic mechanism for primary olfactory reception.
The evidence presented here suggests that olfaction, like colour vision and hearing, is a spectral sense, and that inelastic electron tunnelling is the mechanism for biological transduction of molecular vibrations.
Intranasal chemosensory function of the trigeminal nerve and aspects of its relation to olfaction
The interaction between the olfactory and trigeminal systems is not straightforward and may be difficult to predict, but it has a powerful influence on the perception of odors.
The Emperor's new theory
The Emperor of Scent is the story of how Turin arrived at his version of vibration theory, and his trials and tribulations in getAlas, nouveau vibration theory fails to take the world by storm.
Olfactory discrimination ability of human subjects for ten pairs of enantiomers.
The findings support the assumption that enantioselective molecular odor receptors may only exist for some but not all volatile enantiomers and thus that chiral recognition of odorants may not be a general phenomenon but is restricted to some substances.
Olfactory discrimination ability for homologous series of aliphatic alcohols and aldehydes.
It is found that carbon chain length may be one of presumably several determinants of the interaction between stimulus molecule and receptor, and thus may be a molecular property affecting odor quality of aliphatic alcohols and aldehydes.
Identification of the components of taste mixtures by adults and children.
8- to 9-year-olds have the cognitive skills to analyze taste mixtures in terms of the identity of the components and their perceived strengths, demonstrating the importance of appropriate training and test procedures when studying the sensory responses of children.