Hadas Lapid, Weizmann Institute

Room 1061, Meyer building, Electrical Engineering, Technion at 16:00

24 May, 2011

Title: Decoding Human Olfaction: From the olfactory epithelium to percept


Organization of receptive surfaces reflects primary axes of perception.In vision, retinal coordinates reflect spatial
coordinates.  In audition, cochlear coordinates reflect tonal coordinates. However, the rules underlying organization of the
olfactory receptive surface are unknown.

To test the hypothesis that organization of the olfactory epithelium reflects olfactory perception, we inserted an electrode to measure odorant-induced evoked responses directly from the human olfactory epithelium. 

We found that pairwise differences in odorant pleasantness predicted the pairwise differences in response magnitude, i.e., a location that responded maximally to a pleasant odorant was likely to respond strongly to other pleasant odorants, and a location that responded maximally to an unpleasant odorant was likely to respond strongly to other unpleasant odorants. 

Moreover, the extent of an individual’s perceptual span predicted their span in evoked response.  This suggests that like in vision and audition, organization of the olfactory receptor surface reflects key axes of perception.


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