Using Ethologically Relevant Tasks to Study Olfactory Discrimination in Rodents
For most mammals, the ability to detect odours and discriminate between them is necessary for survival. Information regarding the availability of food, the presence of predators and the sex, age and dominance status of conspecifics is odour mediated. Probably because of this extraordinary reliance upon odour cues, mice and rats have developed the ability to learn and remember information associated with olfactory cues as effectively as primates recall visually related cues. As a result, these rodents have become the model of choice to study the neural and cognitive processes involved in olfactory discrimination. In this paper, we describe some of the more ethologically based tasks used in assessing lfactory discrimination and the advantages and disadvantages of the different methodologies employed.
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