Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sense of smell: The nose and the brain make quite a team... in disconnection

Date:
August 12, 2013
Source:
Université de Genève
Summary:
Scientists have just shown that the representation of an odor evolves after the first breath, and that an olfactory retentivity persists at the central level.

Alan Carleton's team from the Neuroscience Department at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) Faculty of Medicine has just shown that the representation of an odor evolves after the first breath, and that an olfactory retentivity persists at the central level. The phenomenon is comparable to what occurs in other sensory systems, such as vision or hearing. These movements undoubtedly enable the identification of new odors in complex environments or participate in the process of odor memorization.

This research is the subject of a publication in the latest online edition of the journal PNAS.

Rodents can identify odors in a single breath, which is why research on sense of smell in mammals focuses on that first inhalation. Yet we must remember that from a neurological standpoint, sensory representations change during and after the stimuli. To understand the evolution of these mental representations, an international team of researchers led by Professor Alan Carleton at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) Faculty of Medicine conducted the following experiment: by observing the brain of an alert mouse, the neuroscientists recorded the electrical activity emitted by the olfactory bulb of animals inhaling odors.

They were surprised to find that in mitral cells, some representations evolved during the first inhalations, and others persisted and remained stable well after the odor ceased. The cohort subjected to these analyses revealed that the post-odor responses contained an odor retentivity -- a specific piece of information about the nature of odor and its concentration.

Will odor memory soon be understood?

Using cerebral imaging, researchers discovered that the majority of sensory activity is visible only during the presentation of odors, which implies that retentivity is essentially internal to the brain. Therefore, odor retentivity would not be dependent upon odorous physicochemical properties. Finally, to artificially induce retentivity, the team photostimulated mitral cells using channelrhodopsin, then recorded the persistent activity maintained at the central level. The strength and persistence of the retentivity were found to be dependent on the duration of the stimulation, both artificial and natural.

In summary, the neuroscientists were able to show that the representation of an odor changes after the first breath, and that an olfactory retentivity persists at the central level, a phenomenon comparable to what occurs in other sensory systems, such as vision and hearing. These movements undoubtedly enable the identification of new odors in complex environments or participate in the process of odor memorization.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. M. A. Patterson, S. Lagier, A. Carleton. Odor representations in the olfactory bulb evolve after the first breath and persist as an odor afterimage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1303873110

Cite This Page:

Université de Genève. "Sense of smell: The nose and the brain make quite a team... in disconnection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812103013.htm>.
Université de Genève. (2013, August 12). Sense of smell: The nose and the brain make quite a team... in disconnection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812103013.htm
Université de Genève. "Sense of smell: The nose and the brain make quite a team... in disconnection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812103013.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) — A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. 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