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Cracking the Olfactory Code


We are part of an international, multi-investigator research network aimed at understanding how  animals use odor information from their environment to guide natural behaviors? This project was recently funded by the National Science Foundation under their Neuronex Awards, under the auspices of the BRAIN Initiative. The 'Odor2Action' network, which includes 16 investigators at institutions from across the US, the UK and Canada,  will approach this problem using olfactory-guided behavior as an instance of a much more general problem of many complex brain systems: how are high-dimensional, discrete, and combinatorial variables that are not simply ordered along easily discernible axes represented in brain circuits and mapped to actions? Our laboratory aims to understand the first stages of how neural representations of odor are generated, and how they are progressively reformatted across successive circuit layers to support meaningful behaviors.  This work builds on previous NSF support tools under their IDEASLab funding mechanism, and uses new approaches to map responses to large numbers of odors across the olfactory bulb and to link these response patterns to identified odorant receptors and their known response specificity.   

Relevant Publications

Burton SD, Wipfel M, Guo M, Eiting TP, Wachowiak M. A Novel Olfactometer for Efficient and Flexible Odorant Delivery. Chem Senses. 2019 Mar 11;44(3):173-188. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjz005. PubMed PMID: 30657873; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6410398.

Rothermel M, Brunert D, Zabawa C, Díaz-Quesada M, Wachowiak M (2013) Transgene Expression in Target-Defined Neuron Populations Mediated by Retrograde Infection with Adeno-Associated Viral Vectors. The Journal of Neuroscience 33:15195-15206.

Wachowiak M, Economo MN, Díaz-Quesada M, Brunert D, Wesson DW, White JA, Rothermel M (2013) Optical Dissection of Odor Information Processing In Vivo Using GCaMPs Expressed in Specified Cell Types of the Olfactory Bulb. The Journal of Neuroscience 33:5285-5300.

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