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Trends Neurosci. 2016 Oct;39(10):649-655. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2016.08.002.

Smelling Time: A Neural Basis for Olfactory Scene Analysis.

Author information

1
Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences, Center for Smell and Taste, and McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA. Electronic address: bwa@whitney.ufl.edu.
2
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA.
3
Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences, Center for Smell and Taste, and McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
4
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Center for Smell and Taste, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.

Abstract

Behavioral evidence from phylogenetically diverse animals and from humans suggests that, by extracting temporal information inherent in the olfactory signal, olfaction is more involved in interpreting space and time than heretofore imagined. If this is the case, the olfactory system must have neural mechanisms capable of encoding time at intervals relevant to the turbulent odor world in which many animals live. Here, we review evidence that animals can use populations of rhythmically active or 'bursting' olfactory receptor neurons (bORNs) to extract and encode temporal information inherent in natural olfactory signals. We postulate that bORNs represent an unsuspected neural mechanism through which time can be accurately measured, and that 'smelling time' completes the requirements for true olfactory scene analysis.

KEYWORDS:

encoding time; olfaction; scene analysis

PMID:
27594700
PMCID:
PMC5048551
DOI:
10.1016/j.tins.2016.08.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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