Beyond mere breathing and mucus production, the nose is integrally connected to the functioning of the rest of the body. One important factor is our sense of smell. The cribriform plate lies at the top of the inside of the nose, which is the area under the brain near the middle, superior, and supreme turbinates and the septum. Tiny perforations in this plate transmit the sense of smell to the brain by way of the olfactory nerve. Anything that has a smell releases a chemical, called an odor - ant, through the process of evaporation. This odorant is picked up by an olfactory nerve ending, called a receptor cell. There are 10 - 20 million receptor cells in each nasal chamber lining the cribriform plate and nose. These receptors fire off an impulse in the nerve, which is sent to the nerve’s olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb contains receptors called sensory nerve cells that transmit the information about the odors to the brain. The brain matches the information to memories of earlier received smells. This gives us our sense of smell.
Our sense of smell is very important and often taken for granted. It helps us experience pleasure by allowing us to encounter good smells and to taste our food. Approximately 80 percent of our sense of taste comes from decoding the fragrance of food. This is why when you have a stuffy nose, food doesn’t seem to have much flavor.
Furthermore, our sense of smell is integral in picking a mate. Every person has a unique odor. This odor becomes very important in the selection process of choosing friends, especially a mate, just as we are
attracted to the way others look and sound. The multibillion-dollar perfume and fragrance industry capitalizes on this human connection by creating scents that we find attractive in perfumes, colognes, soaps, powders, and deodorants.
In addition, the nasal septum houses a structure called the vomerine gland. This gland can detect pheromones, complex chemicals released by the body that create a unique, yet subtle scent. Pheromones are believed to be partially responsible for providing the brain with information used when choosing a mate. There has been much controversy about pheromones in recent years, because many fragrance producers claim that they place such chemicals in their perfumes and colognes.
Some scientists believe that the sense of smell also has a role in the act of sex itself. For many people, the sense of smell is important in the arousal period leading up to intercourse. It is also one reason why some people may not fully experience the range of sexual satisfaction when their nose is congested.