, Volume 34, Issue 7, pp 928-942
Date: 14 Jun 2008

Neural Computations with Mammalian Infochemicals

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Abstract

The mammalian olfactory system is the most sensitive and discriminating molecular recognition system known, able to detect a few dozen critical molecules in the face of strong and variable background odorants. The set of information-containing volatile molecules used to transmit information within and between mammalian species shows both great molecular and informational diversity. Chemosensory neuroscientists that apply traditional reductionist methods to the analysis of information processing and computational principles in the olfactory system find great value in understanding the ecological and ethological context in which mammalian olfactory communication occurs. This review highlights a subset of the molecular armamentarium and information transmissions relevant to understanding the uses of olfactory communication by mammals in an ecological context.

Dedicated to Tom Eisner, for his inspiring example of how to do science well and joyfully.