Olfactory discrimination ability of CD-1 mice for aliphatic aldehydes as a function of stimulus concentration
Using an operant conditioning paradigm, we tested the ability of CD-1 mice to discriminate between members of a homologous series of aliphatic aldehydes presented at four different concentrations. We found that the mice were clearly capable of discriminating between all odorant pairs when stimuli were presented at concentrations of 1, 0.01, and 0.001 ppm (corresponding to four, two, and one log unit above the highest individual detection threshold) with no significant difference in performance between these concentrations. In contrast, the animals generally failed to discriminate above chance level when stimuli were presented at 0.0001 ppm (corresponding to the highest individual detection threshold) although stimuli were clearly detectable. Further, we found a significant negative correlation between discrimination performance and structural similarity of odorants in terms of differences in carbon chain length. These findings suggest that an increase in stimulus concentration of only one log unit above detection threshold appears to be sufficient for recruitment of additional subpopulations of odorant receptors to allow for qualitative recognition of aliphatic aldehydes.
KeywordsOlfactory discrimination Aliphatic aldehydes Stimulus concentration CD-1 mice
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