Smell/olfaction processing

Professor Pierre Lledo describes how odorant molecules (smells) are processed in the olfactory system. The process relies heavily on spatial maps.

How the brain perceives and detects and memorizes odor information has been a long-lasting debate. Even today, we are not sure about how the brain recognizes odorant molecules from outside. But we can guess. We know, first of all, that the odorant molecules are recognized by sensory organs that are located in the nostril. From there, there is a transformation of the information from chemical to electrical information. Then this electrical information reaches the brain and basically our brain knows what we are smelling according to where these sensory inputs are reaching the brain. We call these, spatial maps. The important dimension here, is the spatial one – where information is occurring into the brain. How this spatial dimension is then going to move and bring information to higher centers, we don’t know. But we can guess. One of the major candidates is, in fact, the temporal dimension. From a spatial dimension, where you have maps, and what we call odorant maps – images if you want – these images are going to be transformed into temporal information. Not only does the brain need to know where this information occurs in the brain, but also when [it occurs]. The 'when' is very important because in the temporal dimension you might be able to discriminate very similar odorants.

odorant molecules, olfaction, smell, sensory inputs, pierre, lledo

Related Content

2071. The chemical senses

Professor Pierre Lledo introduces the two main chemical senses - smell (olfaction) and taste.

  • ID: 2071
  • Source: G2C

2238. Perception

A overview of perception-related content on Genes to Cognition Online.

  • ID: 2238
  • Source: G2C

2073. Neurogenesis and the olfactory bulb

Professor Pierre Lledo explains that the olfactory bulb is a primary site of neurogenesis - one of the few areas in the brain where new neurons are generated throughout life.

  • ID: 2073
  • Source: G2C

1093. Forming New Short-term Memories (1)

Professor Ron Davis discusses how his lab observed that short term memories are formed through the recruitment of new synapses.

  • ID: 1093
  • Source: G2C

15149. Human smell receptors, Svante Paabo

Evolutionary geneticist Svante Paabo talks about the status of human smell receptors.

  • ID: 15149
  • Source: DNAi

15318. Every gene has a distinctive history? Eric Lander

Eric Lander talks about every gene has a distinctive history.

  • ID: 15318
  • Source: DNAi

825. A Brain Built for Fair Play

A new theory of the neuroscientific basis for the human instinct for fair play.

  • ID: 825
  • Source: G2C

1094. Forming New Short-term Memories (2)

Professor Ron Davis describes how memories are formed through the addition of new synapses.

  • ID: 1094
  • Source: G2C

1720. Training Flies

Many of the genes important for memory in flies are probably also important for memory in other animals, even humans. Doctor Josh Dubnau explains how the T-maze is used to test memory in flies.

  • ID: 1720
  • Source: G2C

1069. Receptor Molecules

Professor David Van Vactor describes the role of receptor molecules, which receive signals from outside the cell, passing the signal to the inside.

  • ID: 1069
  • Source: G2C