Title

Anatomical contributions to odorant sampling and representation in rodents: zoning in on sniffing behavior

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Physiology and Program in Neuroscience

Date

12-13-2005

Document Type

Article

Subjects

Animals; Behavior, Animal; *Odors; Olfactory Bulb; Olfactory Receptor Neurons; Rodentia; Smell

Disciplines

Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences

Abstract

Odorant sampling behaviors such as sniffing bring odorant molecules into contact with olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) to initiate the sensory mechanisms of olfaction. In rodents, inspiratory airflow through the nose is structured and laminar; consequently, the spatial distribution of adsorbed odorant molecules during inspiration is predictable. Physicochemical properties such as water solubility and volatility, collectively called sorptiveness, interact with behaviorally regulable variables such as inspiratory flow rate to determine the pattern of odorant deposition along the inspiratory path. Populations of ORNs expressing the same odorant receptor are distributed in strictly delimited regions along this inspiratory path, enabling different deposition patterns of the same odorant to evoke different patterns of neuronal activation across the olfactory epithelium and in the olfactory bulb. We propose that both odorant sorptive properties and the regulation of sniffing behavior may contribute to rodents' olfactory capacities by this mechanism. In particular, we suggest that the motor regulation of sniffing behavior is substantially utilized for purposes of "zonation" or the direction of odorant molecules to defined intranasal regions and hence toward distinct populations of receptor neurons, pursuant to animals' sensory goals.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: Chem Senses. 2006 Feb;31(2):131-44. Epub 2005 Dec 8. Link to article on publisher's site

DOI of Published Version

10.1093/chemse/bjj015

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

Journal Title

Chemical senses

PubMed ID

16339266