Unformatted text preview: 17 February 2007 | HHMI BULLETIN How does the olfactory system distin- guish among thousands of odorants, some with nearly identical structures? Buck’s group discovered that odorant receptors are used combinatorially to encode odor identities. “Just as letters of the alphabet can be used in different combinations to form a multitude of different words, odorant receptors are used in different combina- tions to create a vast array of different odor perceptions,” says Buck. In the olfactory bulb, each odorant is thus represented by a unique combination, or “map,” of glom- eruli at differing positions, with a similar activation profile in every individual. This map must be conveyed in some form on to the next, more complex, levels of processing in the brain. Tracing these pathways and events is, for Axel, something most easily done in the simple nervous system of the fruit fly. With powerful imaging techniques, he can visualize indi- vidual neurons connecting the fly’s antennal lobe (analogous to the olfactory bulb in mammals) to higher brain struc-...
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This note was uploaded on 10/06/2010 for the course BIOLOGY Food scien taught by Professor Dr.johnson during the Spring '10 term at Berkeley.
- Spring '10