Studying Odor Perception in the Brain

  • August 10, 2019
  • Blog
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The latest ultrasound imaging technique has presented the opportunity to scientists for the first time ever to give the internal vivo visualization of the piriform cortex during odor perception in rats. This deeply located structure in brain was previously not accessible in imaging (piriform cortex has a major role in the process of olfaction). Teams of Mickael Tanter and Hirac Gurden are principal investigators of this groundbreaking study.

brain imaging

It is still a question that how human brain senses the intricate details of the external environment. The structures mainly involved in the olfactory functions are olfactory bulb and piriform cortex that are capable of performing information collection and integration on the cerebral cortex.

About fUS:

The fUS (functional ultrasound) designed by Mickael Tanter can monitor the neuronal activity in the piriform cortex. It is based on the ultrasonic waves, and the contrasting of these images is due to variations in the blood flow, while the location of activated neurons can also be detected.

Other such techniques are also available like MRI but fUS is less costly, easy to use and has high resolution, as it provides access to deep structures in the brain, and performs an important function in olfaction.

Hirac Gurden’s team recorded the spatial distribution in the olfactory bulb. The blood volume has increased when the odor was perceived, which resulted in the activation of neurons, and the absence of spatial distribution in piriform cortex was observed first time. Furthermore, it they found that that piriform cortex also memorizes different types of data.

New perspectives are given to imaging and neurobiology by this work. The researchers are now focused on effects of cortical activity and olfactory system.

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