About Careers MedBlog Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Smell Decoding System In Brain –Research Finds

by Medindia Content Team on June 19, 2006 at 2:54 PM
Font : A-A+

Smell Decoding System In Brain –Research Finds

Researchers of the Duke University Medical Center have found from animal studies that the brain don't receive fragnance as a single object , but perceives it, divides it into categories and send to brain's olfactory system (smarter sections) to combine these compounds into a recognizable scent.

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.

Advertisement

"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.
Advertisement

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 olfactory 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: Eurekalert)
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
What's New on Medindia
Test  Your Knowledge on Heart
Test Your Knowlege on Genes
Obesity in Teens Make Inroads into Early Atrial Fibrillation
View all
Recommended Reading
News Archive
Date
Category
Advertisement
News Category

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Anosmia Parkinsons Disease Parkinsons Disease Surgical Treatment Brain Brain Facts Ataxia Language Areas in The Brain Ways to Improve your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) 

Most Popular on Medindia

Blood Pressure Calculator Selfie Addiction Calculator A-Z Drug Brands in India Loram (2 mg) (Lorazepam) Drug Side Effects Calculator Post-Nasal Drip Blood - Sugar Chart Find a Doctor Blood Donation - Recipients Sinopril (2mg) (Lacidipine)
This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use
×

Smell Decoding System In Brain –Research Finds Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests