Speed and accuracy of olfactory discrimination in the rat

Uchida, N., Mainen, Z. F. (November 2003) Speed and accuracy of olfactory discrimination in the rat. Nature Neuroscience, 6 (11). pp. 1224-9. ISSN 1097-6256

URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14566341
DOI: 10.1038/nn1142


The sense of smell is typically thought of as a 'slow' sense, but the true temporal constraints on the accuracy of olfactory perception are not known. It has been proposed that animals make finer odor discriminations at the expense of additional processing time. To test this idea, we measured the relationship between the speed and accuracy of olfactory discrimination in rats. We found that speed of discrimination was independent of odor similarity, as measured by overlap of glomerular activity patterns. Even when pushed to psychophysical limits using mixtures of two odors, rats needed to take only one sniff (<200 ms at theta frequency) to make a decision of maximum accuracy. These results show that, for the purpose of odor quality discrimination, a fully refined olfactory sensory representation can emerge within a single sensorimotor or theta cycle, suggesting that each sniff can be considered a snapshot of the olfactory world.

Item Type: Paper
Uncontrolled Keywords: Animals Behavior, Animal Choice Behavior Cluster Analysis Discrimination (Psychology)/ physiology Evoked Potentials/physiology Inhalation/physiology Male Movement/physiology Odors Olfactory Bulb/drug effects/physiology Olfactory Pathways/ physiology Psychometrics Rats Rats, Long-Evans Reaction Time Respiration Sensory Thresholds/physiology Smell/ physiology Space Perception/ physiology Stimulation, Chemical Time Factors
Subjects: organism description > animal
organism description > animal behavior
organism description > animal behavior > olfactory
organism description > animal > mammal > rodent > rat
organism description > animal > mammal > rodent > rat
CSHL Authors:
Communities: CSHL labs > Mainen lab
Depositing User: Matt Covey
Date: November 2003
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2013 14:23
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2013 14:23
Related URLs:
URI: https://repository.cshl.edu/id/eprint/27994

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