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Eugenio Martinelli, Gabriele Magna, Davide Polese, Alexander Vergara, and Detlev Schild (2015)

Stable Odor Recognition by a neuro-adaptive Electronic Nose

Scientific Reports 5(Article number: 10960).  (export entry)


Sensitivity, selectivity and stability are decisive properties of sensors. In chemical gas sensors odor recognition can be severely compromised by poor signal stability, particularly in real life applications where the sensors are exposed to unpredictable sequences of odors under changing external conditions. Although olfactory receptor neurons in the nose face similar stimulus sequences under likewise changing conditions, odor recognition is very stable and odorants can be reliably identified independently from past odor perception. We postulate that appropriate pre-processing of the output signals of chemical sensors substantially contributes to the stability of odor recognition, in spite of marked sensor instabilities. To investigate this hypothesis, we use an adaptive, unsupervised neural network inspired by the glomerular input circuitry of the olfactory bulb. Essentially the model reduces the effect of the sensors’ instabilities by utilizing them via an adaptive multicompartment feed-forward inhibition. We collected and analyzed responses of a 4 × 4 gas sensor array to a number of volatile compounds applied over a period of 18 months, whereby every sensor was sampled episodically. The network conferred excellent stability to the compounds’ identification and was clearly superior over standard classifiers, even when one of the sensors exhibited random fluctuations or stopped working at all.
DOI: 10.1038/srep10960