I gave a short (15 min) talk at AChemS as part of a symposium on its founder Max Mozell.
Mozell's chromatographic theory: A molecular basis of cognitive behavior?
Max Mozell's chromatographic theory, he told me for an interview in 2018, never was completed. His hypothesis states that the mucosa in the nasal epithelium yields a spatially differentiated pattern of odorants with different sorptive rates. Mozell formulated this idea before the olfactory receptor discovery in 1991 and the availability of genetic techniques that allow for target-specific probing of olfactory sensory neurons. His theory does not find many adherents in contemporary olfactory research, now focusing on decoding the stimulus with machine learning and neural principles with optogenetics. Notwithstanding, there are good reasons to reengage with Mozell's theory and translate some of its critical tenets into the 21st century. This talk highlights Mozell's interest in linking sniffing behavior to a molecular physiological mechanism at the periphery. It asks: What questions about the olfactory process did Mozell's theory address that may still be of value today?