Making Sense of Scent Reading Ielts Answers and Questions

The Blog post contains the following IELTS Reading Questions:

  • IELTS Reading True/False/Not given
  • IELTS Reading Multiple Choice Questions
  • IELTS Reading Sentence Completion

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IELTS reading passage – Making Sense of Scent

Making Sense of Scent

You inhale a mist of chemicals every time you walk by a bakery because of the smell. It takes a lot of effort to recognize the odor as that of freshly baked bread. But the sense of smell is frequently undervalued in comparison to the other senses. About half of respondents between the ages of 16 and 30 in a survey of 7,000 young people worldwide indicated they preferred to lose their sense of smell to give up access to technology like computers or cell phones.

We don’t pay close attention to how much olfaction we utilize on a daily basis. In reality, there are roughly a thousand genes in mammals that are involved in odor reception. The fact that 5% of human DNA is dedicated to olfaction, despite the fact that there are significantly fewer active odor receptor genes in humans, highlights the significance of our sense of smell.

Millions of sensory neurons are found in a thin strip of tissue called the olfactory epithelium near the back of the nose, where the smell is first detected. Odorant molecules migrate through the nasal passages’ superior nasal concha and land on the epithelium. Proteins known as receptors, which bind odor molecules, are present at the tips of epithelial cells. According to Leslie Vosshall, an expert in olfaction, the receptors are like locks, and the odor molecules that pass by are the means to unlock these locks.

Olfactory receptors come in roughly 450 different varieties in humans. Each receptor can be activated by a variety of odor molecules, and each odor molecule can activate a variety of receptor types (dogs having around twice as many as humans). However, the intensity of the forces that connect odor molecules to receptors can vary significantly, making certain contacts better “fits” than others.

We are able to sense a wide variety of smells due to the complexity of receptors and how they interact with odor molecules. A complex brain code that humans might recognize as the smell of a rose or newly cut grass is actually created by a mixture of several odor molecules operating on a number of receptors. The sensory neurons in the nose are the first in this neural code. The olfactory bulb, a structure at the base of the forebrain, transfers the electrical signal from the sensory neurons to other brain regions for further processing once an odor molecule connects to a receptor.

The piriform cortex is a group of neurons right behind the olfactory bulb that functions to recognize smells.  The thalamus, a structure that acts as a relay station for all of the sensory data entering the brain, receives information about smell as well. Some of this smell data is sent via the thalamus to the orbitofrontal cortex, where it can be combined with taste data. The effects of this sensory integration are what we frequently mistake for the taste sense.

Charles Wysocki, a scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, claims that our ability to appreciate the meals and beverages we consume relies on our olfactory system. This connection between scent and taste explains why food seems bland when you have a cold. You’ve surely noticed that a scent can also evoke feelings and even specific memories, such as when you smell the perfume at a department shop and are reminded of your favorite uncle who uses the same scent. This occurs as a result of the thalamus transmitting smell information to the hippocampus and amygdala, important brain areas involved in memory and learning.

Vosshall and her coworkers have recently demonstrated that people can recognize far more odors than the 10,000 or so that scientists once believed the human nose could distinguish. Making random combinations of 10, 20, and 30 odor molecules from a starting set of 128 distinct odor molecules resulted in an unidentifiable fragrance for the participants. The participants were then given three vials, two of which had identical concoctions and the third of which contained a different concoction, and they were instructed to identify the smell that didn’t belong.Naturally, it was difficult to distinguish between two types of combinations the more overlap there was between them. The researchers were able to anticipate how people would perform if presented with every potential mixture that might be made from the 128 different odor molecules after assessing how many of the mixtures the majority of individuals could distinguish apart. In comparison to the earlier estimate of 10,000, they calculated that the average human can perceive at least one trillion distinct odors.

Given that there are significantly more than 128 different kinds of odor molecules in the world, Vosshall asserted that this figure likely underestimates the actual number of odors that humans are capable of detecting. And in comparison to other mammals, our sense of smell is rather strong. For instance, only water-soluble odorants may be detected by marine species. Humans are no longer regarded as having a weak sense of smell. Vosshall declared, “It’s time to give our sense of smell the credit it deserves.

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Recommended Questions:

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Making Sense of Scent Reading Questions 

Question 1 – 4 

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the Reading Passage In boxes 1-4 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE             if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE            if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this

1. Odor reception is an integral function of all mammals.      
2. Superior nasal concha is compared to a lock and odor molecules are like keys that are used to open it.                 
3. Cats have two times as many olfactory receptors as humans.
4. In general, olfaction, and sense of taste are considered equally important.                       

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Choose the correct letters A, B, C or D

Write the correct letters in boxes 5 – 6 on your answer sheet.

5. Where molecules do NOT travel throughout the process?

  • Nasal 
  • Epithelium
  • Receptors
  • Genes

6. Where does neural code begin from?

  • Hippocampus
  • Sensory neurons
  • Amygdala
  • Orbitofrontal cortex

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Questions 7-12

Complete the sentences below.

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 7-12 on your answer sheet.

The part of our brain responsible for identifying the smell is called 7. _______   .
The 8. _______ is a region in our brain that serves as a transition station for all sensory information that we receive.
Sense of smell is closely related to 9. _______  .
10. _______ and _______ are involved in arousing memories caused by specific smells.
The experiment proved that the average person can discriminate between at least 
11. _______ smells.Sea mammals can smell only odorants that are 
12. _______  in water.

Enhance your sentence completion skills in the IELTS Reading section. Click here to access our comprehensive guide and learn effective strategies for filling in missing words or phrases in sentences.

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Recommended Questions:

Renewable Energy IELTS Reading Question with Answer

Making Sense of Scent Reading Answers

1. True
2. False 
3. Not Given 
4. Not Given 
5. D6. B 
7. Piriform cortex 
8. Thalamus 
9. Sense of taste 
10. Hippocampus, Amygdala
11. One trillion 
12. Soluble 


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