How the Properties of Stimuli and Receptors Shape Olfactory Perception

Andreas Keller, Ph.D., Research Associate, Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, The Rockefeller University

Date and Location

When (Date/Time)

September 19, 2019, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM


252 Erickson Food Science Building

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We perceive a smell when odorant molecules bind to the odorant receptors on sensory neurons in our nose. The perceptual qualities of the perceived smell largely depend on the receptor-odorant-interaction, which in turn depends on the chemical and physical properties of odorants and receptors. In the century-old tradition of psychophysics, we have investigated how the smell of a stimulus depends on its physical properties. Thanks to the large genetic variability in the human olfactory receptor repertoire, we also had an opportunity to determine how the perception of our olfactory environment depends on the properties of the odorant receptor repertoire. This two-pronged approach presents a first step in predicting how a given olfactory stimulus will be perceived by a given olfactory system.