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Auffarth, Benjamin, Gutierrez-Galvez, Agustín, Marco, Santiago, (2011). Continuous spatial representations in the olfactory bulb may reflect perceptual categories Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 5, (82), 1-8

In sensory processing of odors, the olfactory bulb is an important relay station, where odor representations are noise-filtered, sharpened, and possibly re-organized. An organization by perceptual qualities has been found previously in the piriform cortex, however several recent studies indicate that the olfactory bulb code reflects behaviorally relevant dimensions spatially as well as at the population level. We apply a statistical analysis on 2-deoxyglucose images, taken over the entire bulb of glomerular layer of the rat, in order to see how the recognition of odors in the nose is translated into a map of odor quality in the brain. We first confirm previous studies that the first principal component could be related to pleasantness, however the next higher principal components are not directly clear. We then find mostly continuous spatial representations for perceptual categories. We compare the space spanned by spatial and population codes to human reports of perceptual similarity between odors and our results suggest that perceptual categories could be already embedded in glomerular activations and that spatial representations give a better match than population codes. This suggests that human and rat perceptual dimensions of odorant coding are related and indicates that perceptual qualities could be represented as continuous spatial codes of the olfactory bulb glomerulus population.

Keywords: Glomeruli, Memory organization, Odor quality, Olfaction, Olfactory bulb, Perceptual categories, Population coding, Spatial coding


Auffarth, B., Gutierrez-Galvez, A., Marco, S., (2010). Relevance and LOCI of odorant features in the rat olfactory bulb: Statistical methods for understanding olfactory codes in glomerular images BIOSIGNALS 2010 - Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Bio-inpsired Systems and Signal Processing, Proceedings 3rd International Conference on Bio-inspired Systems and Signal Processing, BIOSIGNALS 2010 (ed. Fred, A., Filipe, J., Gamboa, H.), Springer-Verlag (Valencia, Spain) , 37-44

The relationship between physicochemical properties of odor molecules and perceived odor quality is arguably one of the most important issues in olfaction and the rules governing this relationship remain unknown. Any given odor molecule will stimulate more than one type of receptor in the nose, perhaps hundreds, and this stimulation reflects itself in the neural code of the olfactory nervous system. We present a method to investigate neural coding at the glomerular level of the olfactory bulb, the first relay for olfactory processing in the brain. Our results give insights into localization of coding sites, relevance of odorant properties for information processing, and the size of coding zones.

Keywords: Classification, Glomeruli, Non-parametric statistics, Odorants, Olfactory bulb, Olfactory coding, Property-activity relationship