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 September 18, 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 September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. 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