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:2/27/2017)... Hills, CA (PRWEB) , ... February 27, 2017 ... ... lose muscle mass and overall body strength, which often leads to a host ... the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society discovered that good overall ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... , ... February 27, 2017 , ... ... Shamanic Healing and Spiritual Awakening, is happy to announce her “Spring Rejuvenation ... and body, these individual customized retreats offer the winter-weary soul an excellent opportunity ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... Ohio (PRWEB) , ... February 27, 2017 , ... Elisa Guajardo Carothers is not your ... Life” to studying to become a nun. Now, she writes about God, when she isn’t ... “You Know BC and AD, Here is BS! (Before Satan),” she offers a comedic look ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... ... ... Miro is the ultimate smart media center that offers a fascinating home theater ... much more apps for user exploration. Its innovative acoustic design with premium speakers and ... provides crisp images with remarkable clarity and color. The WiFi connection enables its users ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... ... February 27, 2017 , ... ... treatment programs in British Columbia, Canada, at https://www.sunshinecoasthealthcentre.ca/ , is proud to ... new hire, Mackenzie Alsager, showcases the Centre's commitment to innovation in drug rehab ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/24/2017)... , Feb. 24, 2017 Medical information ... to increase their self-service capabilities to manage inquiries ... (HCPs). New research from consulting leader ... have developed self-service website portals where HCPs can ... just one of many findings to emerge from ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... , Feb. 23, 2017 Report analyzes the ... provides separate comprehensive analytics for the US, Canada ... , Asia-Pacific , Latin ... forecasts are provided for the period 2015 through 2022. Also, ... data and analytics are derived from primary and secondary research. ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... from Pharma To Market Pty Ltd and Ador Consulting Pte Ltd ... founding of Pharma To Market Pte Ltd, based in ... announce their expansion into Asia with the ... company are delighted to appoint Joelle Chia , former owner ... based entity. Joelle brings with her an extensive business network ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: