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J Insect Physiol. 2001 Feb 1;47(2):115-130.

The role of glomeruli in the neural representation of odours: results from optical recording studies.

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Institut für Biologie-Neurobiologie, Fachbereich Biologie, Chemie, Pharmazie, Freie Universität Berlin, Königin Luise Strasse 28-30, 14195, Berlin, Germany


Odours are received by olfactory receptors, which send their axons to the first sensory neuropils, the antennal lobes (in insects) or the olfactory bulb (in vertebrates). From here, processed olfactory information is relayed to higher-order brain centres. A striking similarity in olfactory systems across animal phyla is the presence of glomeruli in this first sensory neuropil. Various experiments have shown that odours elicit a mosaic of activated glomeruli, suggesting that odour quality is coded in an 'across-glomeruli' activity code. In recent years, studies using optical recording techniques have greatly improved our understanding of the resulting 'across-glomeruli pattern', making it possible to simultaneously measure responses in several, often identifiable, glomeruli. For the honeybee Apis mellifera, a functional atlas of odour representation is being created: in this atlas, the glomeruli that are activated by different odorants are named. However, several limitations remain to be investigated. In this paper, we review what optical recording of odour-evoked glomerular activity patterns has revealed so far, and discuss the necessary next steps, with emphasis on the honeybee.

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