Trauma to the Olfactory Nerves
This exhibit depicts the anatomy of the olfactory nerves and trauma with loss of olfaction. The olfactory nerve (cranial nerve one) is responsible for the sense of smell. Specialized olfactory nerve fibers located in the upper nasal mucosa are activated by the inhalation of chemical molecules (odorants). The olfactory nerves then transmit the chemical signals through the cribriform plate to the olfactory bulb. In the olfactory bulb, the chemical signal is translated into an electrical signal, and transmitted to the brain for interpretation. Trauma to the head causes the olfactory nerve roots to be severed at the cribriform plate. This disrupts the perception of chemical signals in the nasal mucosa, resulting in permanent damage to the olfactory system.