Home Publications A Combined Perceptual, Physico-Chemical, and Imaging Approach to 'Odour-Distances' Suggests a Categorizing Function of the Drosophila Antennal Lobe
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Thomas Niewalda, Thomas Völler, Claire Eschbach, Julia Ehmer, Wen C. Chou, Marc Timme, Andre Fiala, and Bertram A. Gerber (2011)

A Combined Perceptual, Physico-Chemical, and Imaging Approach to 'Odour-Distances' Suggests a Categorizing Function of the Drosophila Antennal Lobe

PLoS One 6(9):e24300.  (export entry)


How do physico-chemical stimulus features, perception, and physiology relate? Given the multi-layered and parallel architecture of brains, the question specifically is where physiological activity patterns correspond to stimulus features and/or perception. Perceived distances between six odour pairs are defined behaviourally from four independent odour recognition tasks. We find that, in register with the physico-chemical distances of these odours, perceived distances for 3octanol and n-amylacetate are consistently smallest in all four tasks, while the other five odour pairs are about equally distinct. Optical imaging in the antennal lobe, using a calcium sensor transgenically expressed in only first-order sensory or only second-order olfactory projection neurons, reveals that 3-octanol and n-amylacetate are distinctly represented in sensory neurons, but appear merged in projection neurons. These results may suggest that within-antennal lobe processing funnels sensory signals into behaviourally meaningful categories, in register with the physico-chemical relatedness of the odours.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024300 ISSN: 1932-6203 Extra: WOS:000294803100017