Olfactory bulb

neural structure of the vertebrate forebrain involved in olfaction, which sends olfactory information to be further processed in the amygdala, the orbitofrontal cortex and the hippocampus where it plays a role in emotion, memory and learning

The olfactory bulb is a part of the vertebrate forebrain. It works in olfaction, or the sense of smell.

Image of mouse main olfactory bulb cell nuclei.
Scale top to bottom is about 2mm

The olfactory bulb has one source of sensory input (axons from olfactory receptor neurons, and one output (mitral cell axons). It is thought that it functions as a filter. However, the olfactory bulb also gets "top-down" information from brain areas like the amygdala, neocortex, hippocampus, locus coeruleus, and substantia nigra.[1][2]

Its range of functions probably include:

  • discriminating between odors
  • enhancing sensitivity of odor detection
  • filtering out background odors
  • permitting higher brain areas involved in arousal and attention to modify the detection or discrimination of odors.


  1. Scott J.W. et al 1993. Functional organization of the main olfactory bulb. Microsc. Res. Tech. 24 (2): 142–56. [1]
  2. Linster, Christiane & Cleland, Thomas 2013. Spatiotemporal coding in the olfactory system. 20 Years of Computational Neuroscience. 9: 238. [2]