Odor information is generally assumed to be encoded by olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) in which odorants evoke a tonic discharge. Exciting new evidence extends hints in the earlier literature that some ORNs are not tonically active, but rather are inherently rhythmically active or 'bursting'ORNs (bORNs) in which the rhythmic bursting is entrained by odorants. bORNs open up an entirely new possibility for encoding odor information, in particular information relative to the spatiotemporal characteristics of the odor signal. Experiments are proposed using an animal model in which both tonically active and bORNs are well characterized physiologically to compare the potential of both types of ORNs to encode odor information. This will be done by first using computational modeling to test the hypothesis that synchronization of large ensembles of bORNs selectively favors (1) the detection and amplification of weak odor signals and (2) the detection and coding of the temporal characteristics of the odor signal itself compared to tonically active ORNs. Combined optical and electrophysiological recording from small ensembles of actual ORNs will then be used to experimentally test the predictions of the computational model. This project has the capacity to identify a heretofore unappreciated way in which olfactory information is encoded.

Public Health Relevance

This project has the potential to derive a heretofore unappreciated principle of olfactory information encoding and processing that can be used not only to better understand olfactory dysfunction in humans but also to better design artificial systems capable of analyzing and localizing complex chemosensory signals.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Type
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
5R21DC011859-02
Application #
8338874
Study Section
Somatosensory and Chemosensory Systems Study Section (SCS)
Program Officer
Sullivan, Susan L
Project Start
2011-09-26
Project End
2014-08-31
Budget Start
2012-09-01
Budget End
2014-08-31
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$183,125
Indirect Cost
$58,125
Name
University of Florida
Department
None
Type
Organized Research Units
DUNS #
969663814
City
Gainesville
State
FL
Country
United States
Zip Code
32611
Park, Il Memming; Bobkov, Yuriy V; Ache, Barry W et al. (2014) Intermittency coding in the primary olfactory system: a neural substrate for olfactory scene analysis. J Neurosci 34:941-52
Park, In Jun; Bobkov, Yuriy V; Ache, Barry W et al. (2013) Quantifying bursting neuron activity from calcium signals using blind deconvolution. J Neurosci Methods 218:196-205
Bobkov, Yuriy; Park, Il; Park, Ill et al. (2012) Cellular basis for response diversity in the olfactory periphery. PLoS One 7:e34843