Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Odors Are Sensed: A Complex System Clarified

Date:
April 13, 2006
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Yale scientists have systematically plotted the responses of the entire Drosophila (fruit fly) olfactory system, providing the first multi-dimensional map of the range of odorants sensed and the regions of the brain that are stimulated. This paper, published in the journal Cell, provides particular insight into the understanding of how animals perceive environmental smells that are often complex mixtures of molecular structures.

Odor coding in the fly.
Credit: Carlson/Yale

John Carlson, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Elissa Hallem, his former graduate student in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, published the comprehensive study in the journal Cell.

www.biology.yale.edu/index.html">Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Elissa Hallem, his former graduate student in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, published the comprehensive study in the journal Cell.

"The results of our analysis allow us to make predictions about which odors smell alike to an animal, and which smell different," said Carlson. "These predictions can now be tested in behavioral experiments and may help point us to insect attractants and repellants that are highly effective."

This paper provides particular insight into the understanding of how animals perceive environmental smells that are often complex mixtures of molecular structures. The study identifies compounds that both stimulate and inhibit response in odor neurons, and the differences in response that are due to concentration and duration of exposure to a compound.

"We were surprised to find that inhibitory responses are widespread among odor receptors," said Carlson. "Most receptors are inhibited by at least one odor, and most odors inhibit at least one receptor. Although previous work has been concerned mainly with excitatory responses of receptors, our results suggest that inhibition may play a major role in how odors are identified."

The paper further shows how the responses of the receptor repertoire map into the brain. Surprisingly, receptors with similar odor specificities often map to widely separated locations and receptors with very different specificities often map to neighboring locations.

Carlson and Hallem, who have published extensively in this system over the past several years, found that individual receptors range along a continuum from "narrowly tuned" to "broadly tuned" to odorants. This finding moves the concept of the system beyond the previous picture of a simple dichotomy between specialist and generalist receptors.

Hallem is now a postdoctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. This work was funded by NIH grants and by a National Research Service Award pre-doctoral fellowship.

Citation: Cell 125: 143-160 (April 7, 2006)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Yale University. "How Odors Are Sensed: A Complex System Clarified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060412224210.htm>.
Yale University. (2006, April 13). How Odors Are Sensed: A Complex System Clarified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060412224210.htm
Yale University. "How Odors Are Sensed: A Complex System Clarified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060412224210.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins