Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience and Cognitive Systems

CCNCS Seminar Details

How the fine spatio-temporal structure of the odour plume may help bees to recognize odor objects

Speaker: Thomas Nowotny
Date/Time: Wednesday 20 March 2013, 4.15pm
Location: Marlowe LT2


In this talk I will present our recent models of odour-background segregation in the honeybee antennal lobe. The basis of this work are recent behavioural experiments that demonstrated that honeybees can distinguish a mixture of odours where one component is only a few millisecond delayed ("asynchronous mixture") from the same mixture where both components are in synchrony ("synchronous mixture"). To explain this ability, we hypothesised that a winner-take-all inhibitory network of local neurons in the antennal lobe has a symmetry-breaking effect that allows to generate lasting differences in the response patterns of projection neurons if the mixture is asynchronous. I will present data from a detailed data-driven model of the bee antennal lobe that reproduces a large data set of experimentally observed odour responses and demonstrates that our hypothesis is consistent with the current knowledge of the olfactory circuits in the bee brain. This work introduces a new aspect to how animals may use the information available to them to make sense of the complex odorant scenes they experience every day.

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Centre for Cognitive Science and Cognitive Systems, School of Psychology, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP

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Last Updated: 24/05/2013