Picking Out Odors

Science's STKE  06 Feb 2001:
Vol. 2001, Issue 68, pp. tw8
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2001.68.tw8

Odor representations in the olfactory bulb are not stationary but change while the stimulus is present. Friedrich et al. (see the Perspective by Yoshihara et al.) recorded neurons from mitral cells in the olfactory bulb of the zebra fish. Responses of these neurons to odors became progressively transformed during the time course of stimulus presentation. This transformation was not due to sharpening of individual mitral cell tuning profiles. Instead, odor representation appeared to become more evenly distributed at later times during stimulation. They showed that temporal patterning reduced the similarity between ensemble activities and made each odor representation more specific over time. These data provide an important step in our understanding of the basic mechanisms of olfactory information processing and what makes it different from other sensory modalities.

R. W. Friedrich, G. Laurent, Dynamic optimization of odor representations by slow temporal patterning of mitral cell activity. Science 291, 889-894 (2001). [Abstract] [Full Text]

Y. Yoshihara, H. Nagao, K. Mori, Sniffing out odors with multiple dendrites. Science 291, 835-837 (2001). [Full Text]