Navigation Links
Sniffing out the brain's predictive power
Date:10/7/2011

CHICAGO --- In the moments before you "stop and smell the roses," it's likely your brain is already preparing your sensory system for that familiar floral smell. New research from Northwestern Medicine offers strong evidence that the brain uses predictive coding to generate "predictive templates" of specific smells -- setting up a mental expectation of a scent before it hits your nostrils.

Predictive coding is important because it provides animals -- in this case, humans -- with a behavioral advantage, in that they can react more quickly and more accurately to stimuli in the surrounding environment.

The study, published in the Oct. 6 issue of the journal Neuron, was led by Christina Zelano, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Jay Gottfried, M.D., associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and attending physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The researchers used functional MRI techniques and cutting-edge, pattern-based analysis to identify the existence of predictive coding in the olfactory cortex of the brain, where the sense of smell is housed.

While it may not be obvious that predictive templates in the olfactory system give modern-day humans a behavioral advantage, Zelano said people often overlook the power of the sense of smell.

"If somebody hands you a bottle of milk and asks, 'Is this milk rotten?' there may not be any visual clues to help you accurately determine if the milk has spoiled, so you rely on your sense of smell," Zelano said. "Our study indicated that if your brain can successfully form a template of a rotten milk smell, then you would more accurately determine whether that milk is rotten and therefore you are less likely to get sick. These predictive templates can give us an important advantage."

In the study, subjects performed "odor search tasks" while being monitored inside an MRI scanner. The two scents used in the study were a watermelon smell and a Play-Doh-like smell.

Before each trial began, subjects were told which of two target smells they should try to identify. A visual countdown, informing the subjects that they should get ready to receive a specific odor was administered and then, after smelling the odor, subjects indicated by pressing a button whether they thought the target smell was present. Sometimes the target scent administered was the same as the subject was foretold, sometimes it was different, and sometimes the target scent was hidden in a mixture of other scents.

The researchers were able to look at the activity pattern of the brain before any odor arrived and found that, for trials where the target was the same, the activity pattern was more correlated than when the target was different.

"Our study confirmed the existence of predictive coding mechanisms in olfaction," said Gottfried, senior author of the study. "We found that the entirety of the olfactory cortex we looked at did form predictive templates that were very specific to the targeted smell. "

Predictive templates have been studied in the visual system, but this is the first study to examine the spatiotemporal evolution of activity patterns in the human olfactory cortex.


'/>"/>

Contact: Erin White
ewhite@northwestern.edu
847-491-4888
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Sniffing out lymphoma by turning dogs into humans
2. Urine-sniffing dogs: Early detection of prostate cancer
3. Sniffing Device Allows Disabled to Write, Run Wheelchairs
4. Stress May Affect Preemies Brains, Study Shows
5. Key regulatory genes often amplified in aggressive childhood tumor of the brainstem
6. Brains of Obese May Crave High-Calorie Foods More: Study
7. Alzheimers brains found to have lower levels of key protein
8. Learning information the hard way may be best boot camp for older brains
9. Profound reorganization in brains of adults who stutter
10. Like Those in Humans, Baby Chimps Forebrains Immature
11. Concussion Project Finds Disease in Two Autopsied Brains
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... 23, 2017 , ... Yesterday, U.S. Senate Republicans revealed details ... and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Like the bill narrowly passed by ... a public health insurance program for low-income children, pregnant women, parents of dependent ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... 23, 2017 , ... Everybody has their own personal preference when it comes ... and some people don't like it at all. FindaTopDoc took a look at what ... literature can give readers a taste of their deepest, darkest fantasies and has the ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... 23, 2017 , ... 21 Middle East and South Asia Leaders Selected as ... government, business and civil society in 11 countries across the Middle East and South ... a transformative exchange of knowledge and ideas with the leading minds in their fields. ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Ulster University, Magee Campus in Northern Ireland is ... 3 pm to present to graduate students exciting new and innovative hope research based ... led by The Health Improvement Service of the Western Health & Social Care Trust ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Moore Insurance, ... area with access to asset protection and financial planning services, is teaming up ... improving the lives of children with cancer and other chronic diseases. , The ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/20/2017)... , June 19, 2017  Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: ... call and webcast on Friday, July 28, 2017, beginning at ... Call Audio Only Dial-in information: To participate in the conference ... dial into the call at least 10 minutes prior to ... is 34090339.  Webcast: ...
(Date:6/14/2017)... , June 14, 2017 The Bio Supply ... City of Fremont and the Biomedical ... bio-pharma industry in California by ... executive networking, and fostering workforce development. The primary focus ... growth of start-ups, as well as small and mid-sized ...
(Date:6/10/2017)... Ala. , June 9, 2017  Shane K. Burchfield, DPM, ... recognized for excellence as a Podiatrist in Alabama ... Podiatry at Family First Foot Care. He brings over 20 years ... medicine, pain management and healthcare, to his role. ... First Foot Care, PC is pleased to welcome you ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: