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

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.


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

Page: 1 2

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