What the nose knows is quite amazing, when you think about it. The moment you encounter an awful odor – spoiled milk, say, or the scent of skunk – you reflexively recoil in disgust. Often, too, you take action, quickly disposing of the bad milk or moving as fast as you can away from the presumed location of the skunk.
The investigators discovered that two types of neuronal processors found in the rat olfactory bulb solve the difficult problem of identifying fluctuating environmental odors (which travel in plumes, depicted here) through linear summation. It’s an operation no less straightforward than the one a child uses to add or multiply numbers.
Credit:Albeanu Lab, CSHL
The research described in this release was supported by grants from the Department of Biotechnology, India; a Whitehall Foundation Fellowship; CAEN Fellowship; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; and the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.