Neural activity at the human olfactory epithelium reflects olfactory perception

Hadas Lapid, Sagit Shushan, Anton Plotkin, Hillary Voet, Yehudah Roth, Thomas Hummel, Elad Schneidman, Noam Sobel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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 the 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 into the human olfactory epithelium to directly measure odorant-induced evoked responses. We found that pairwise differences in odorant pleasantness predicted pairwise differences in response magnitude; that is, 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, similarly to receptor surfaces for vision and audition, organization of the olfactory receptor surface reflects key axes of perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1455-1461
Number of pages7
JournalNature Neuroscience
Volume14
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes

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