In other words, there is a profound functional importance of the sense of olfaction or the sense of smell in the survival of any living organism in its environment and the study had focused on the specific experience-induced plasticity in response to odorants in the uterus of a living animal. The olfactory system of a living organism is one way by which its own survival mechanisms are enhanced because the transduction of stimuli is particularly relevant within a living animal's external environment for purposes stated earlier, such as food intake or sexual reproduction, or the avoidance of certain threats to its existence such as predators.
The olfactory system is very plastic, meaning it can be formed and influenced by the early exposure to certain odors, and in this regard, even postnatal experiences (in neonates or newborns) have been influenced to a great degree by the chemosensory stimuli coming from intrauterine experiences, such as alcohol intake by the pregnant mother in humans. There are preferences formed for certain odors experienced in uterus via the mother's diet, and that such odors often result in stimulus-specific enhancement of olfactory epithelial cells.
The effect of early intrauterine ethanol exposure results in a tuned or refined sense of smell that later on affects behavior and also a physiological development of the fetus. Such kind of early experience (exposure to ethanol in the uterus) modulates food intake through choices and preferences for certain types of food. Both animal and human studies support the tentative conclusions regarding the retention of such ethanol-related memories in neonates and infants, especially if the exposure occurred late in the gestation period, no matter how briefly.
This exposure to ethanol odors paradigm helps confirm earlier literature regarding the retention of olfaction memory by a developing fetus to odor contamination in the fetal or prenatal environment and this memory is retained for a significant period of time after birth.
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