Navigation Links
Researchers show how brain decodes complex smells

Duke University Medical Center researchers have discovered how the brain creates a scent symphony from signals sent by the nose.

In studies in mice, the researchers found that nerve cells in the brain's olfactory bulb -- the first stop for information from the nose -- do not perceive complex scent mixtures as single objects, such as the fragrance of a blooming rose. Instead, these nerve cells, or neurons, detect the host of chemical compounds that comprise a rose's perfume. Smarter sections of the brain's olfactory system then categorize and combine these compounds into a recognizable scent. According to the researchers, it's as if the brain has to listen to each musician's melody to hear a symphony.

Humans may rely on the same smell decoding system, because mice and men have similar brain structures for scent, including an olfactory bulb, the researchers said.

"We wanted to understand how the brain puts together scent signals to make an odor picture. We discovered the whole is the sum of its parts," said Da Yu Lin, Ph.D., who conducted the research as a graduate student studying with neurobiologist Lawrence Katz, Ph.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Duke. Katz died in November 2005.

The research appears June 16, 2006, in the journal Neuron. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Ruth K. Broad Biomedical Research Foundation.

Scientists have long debated how the brain makes order out of the hundreds of volatile chemical compounds that assault the nose. Is the brain's odor code redundant, with single cells responding to multiple components in the smell of a freshly baked cookie? Or does the brain process each scent component like a jigsaw puzzle piece, assembling the signals until it recognizes the picture is a cookie?

To find answers, the Duke researchers exposed mice to different odors and measured response of neurons across the olfac tory bulb with intrinsic signal imaging. The imaging technique maps brain activity by detecting changes in reflected light from the brain with a sensitive camera.

To start, the researchers separated and identified the volatile compounds in each odor with gas chromatography. "A complex mixture like urine has at least a hundred separate compounds in it," Lin said. They analyzed scents as diverse as peanut butter, coffee and fresh bobcat urine shipped to the laboratory on dry ice.

The researchers then exposed the mice to the original odor and its individual compounds. "We found that glomeruli, the functional units of the olfactory bulb, act as detectors for individual compounds," Lin said. "There are no single detectors for complete smells."

Thus, to distinguish different scents, the brain must integrate the signals of multiple chemical components into an odor "picture." The researchers suspect that this integration doesn't happen in the olfactory bulb. Instead, the bulb likely passes the data to more advanced brain structures where it is assembled and recognized as a specific scent.

Understanding how the olfactory system works in mice may also provide broader insights into human perception, said Stephen Shea, Ph.D., a Duke University Medical Center research associate who participated in the study. Perception relies on combining multiple components, whether the input is smell, sight or sound. Shea suggested that probing the olfactory system could help scientists better understand, for example, how the various biological and neurological components underlying perception formed and evolved.


'"/>

Source:Duke University Medical Center


Related biology news :

1. Researchers discover way to make cells in the eye sensitive to light
2. Researchers find how protein allows insects to detect and respond to pheromones
3. Researchers Uncover Key Step In Manufacture of Memory Protein
4. Researchers reveal the infectious impact of salmon farms on wild salmon
5. Researchers identify target for cancer drugs
6. Researchers discover molecule that causes secondary stroke
7. Researchers find missing genes of ancient organism
8. Researchers trace evolution to relatively simple genetic changes
9. Researchers add new tool to tumor-treatment arsenal
10. UF Researchers Map Bacterial Proteins That Cause Tooth Loss
11. VCU Researchers Identify Networks Of Genes Responding To Alcohol In The Brain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:3/30/2017)... 30, 2017 The research team of The ... (3D) fingerprint identification by adopting ground breaking 3D fingerprint minutiae recovery ... of speed and accuracy for use in identification, crime investigation, immigration ... ... A research team ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... -- The report "Video Surveillance Market by ... Devices), Software (Video Analytics, VMS), and Service (VSaaS, Installation ... 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market was valued at ... reach USD 75.64 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR ... considered for the study is 2016 and the forecast ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Biometric ... of around 15.1% over the next decade to reach approximately $1,580 ... market estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on global ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/22/2017)... Springfield, Mo. (PRWEB) , ... September 22, 2017 ... ... company, recently announced it will host a booth at premier packaging event PACK ... is hosted by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI). , At this year’s ...
(Date:9/22/2017)... ... September 22, 2017 , ... The effectiveness of a ... in clinical trials in the United States. (clinicaltrials.gov : NCT02973893) , To find ... or find your nearest participating clinic here https://factor-therapeutics.com/clinical-trials/ and discuss your ...
(Date:9/21/2017)... ... (PRWEB) September 21, 2017 , ... The 3rd ... to review the latest knowledge on these products, which are increasingly used in ... the impact of Biostimulants on Plant Nutrition, Abiotic Stresses, Plant Growth and Development, ...
(Date:9/21/2017)... ... 21, 2017 , ... Today, BioPharma Institute, a leading training ... of 5 new courses to its prospectus. These include the eagerly-awaited Regulation ... 11 on Electronic Records and Electronic Signatures (Part 11 of Title 21 of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: