When the nostrils sense different smells, they may be duking it out for the brain's attention, according to a study published online today (August 20) in Current Biology. Such rivalry, well-documented in other sensory systems, has never before been shown for the olfactory system.
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"It's an interesting study," said linkurl:Jay Gottfried,;http://www.northwestern.edu/cnadc/gottfried/people.html a neuroscientist and neurologist at Northwestern University in Illinois, who was not involved in the research. "It provides some challenging and exciting new ways of thinking about olfactory processing." Rivalry between the two eyes -- so-called binocular rivalry -- occurs when the eyes are presented with conflicting stimuli. Because two objects cannot coexist in the same physical location, the brain has difficulty processing the nonsensical input, resulting in a repeated alteration of which image the viewer actually perceives. Cognitive psychologist linkurl:Denise Chen;http://www.ruf.rice.edu/%7Exdchen/ of Rice University in Texas and her graduate student Wen Zhou, currently at...

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