“What the insect’s nose tells the insect’s brain? Testing a new theory for olfaction”
Hosted by the Department of Biomedical Engineering
Abstract: The sense of smell or olfaction is regarded as a primitive sense. The olfactory system allows an organism to detect and interpret chemical cues present in its environment. A range of day-to-day functions, including appetite stimulation, food foraging and evaluation, mate recognition, navigation, detection of threats, and even early diagnosis of diseases depend on efficient processing of olfactory cues. To perform these essential but complex olfactory tasks, most mammalian and insect species have evolved strikingly similar chemosensory systems. In my lab, we use relatively simpler organisms (locusts and fruit flies) to understand the basic signal processing principles utilized by the insect olfactory system to interpret and respond to different olfactory cues they encounter. In this talk, I will provide a deeper insights into these olfactory processing principles and propose a novel theory based on ‘opponent processes’ to integrate our observations. It would be worth noting that such a processing approach would be strikingly similar to how information about color (i.e. color vision) is processed in many animals.
For inquiries contact Mimi Hilburg.
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