Odor Coding in the Brain by Jay Gottfried, 2010

Perceptual Coding of Natural Odors in the Human Brain
2010 Seed Grant
Jay Gottfried, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Neurology
Northwestern University

The majority of natural scents encountered in the environment are complex mixtures of dozens, or even hundreds, of different molecular constituents. Thus a key challenge for the olfactory system is to transform these complex blends of odor stimuli into unified perceptions of smells. However, olfactory neuroscience research has focused almost exclusively on the neural processing of pure (monomolecular) odorants or simple odorant mixtures, overlooking the high dimensional ecological complexity of olfactory space. Using a combination of analytical chemistry, neuroimaging, and psychological research techniques, we will characterize the foundations of human olfactory perception simultaneously across molecular, neural, and behavioral levels. Parallel investigation of natural, real-world odor “wholes,” as well as their component “parts,” will provide new insights regarding how the human brain extracts olfactory meaning from a complex odiferous environment.

Other Grants

Rebekah C. Evans, Ph.D., Georgetown University
In Vivo and Ex Vivo Dissection of Midbrain Neuron Activity During Exercise
Exercise is important for the health of the body and the mind. Exercise promotes learning and reduces symptoms of brain-related diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it…
William J. Giardino, Ph.D. Stanford University
Deciphering the Neuropeptide Circuitry of Emotional Arousal in Narcolepsy
This research project aims to investigate the neural mechanisms of a specific type of brain cell called neuropeptide neurons within a region of the brain’s amygdala network called the bed…
Howard Gritton, Ph.D., University of Illinois
Attention Mechanisms Contributing to Auditory Spatial Processing.
Our world is composed of a rich mixture of sounds. We often process sounds including speech in the presence of many other competing auditory stimuli (e.g., voices in a crowded…
Nora Kory, Ph.D., Harvard University
Elucidating the Fates and Functions of Lactate in the Brain
The human brain requires significant energy to function. Despite accounting for only 2% of our body weight, the brain consumes a substantial 20% of the body’s energy, relying on a…