Insect Olfaction: a Model System for Neural Circuit Modeling
Insect olfactory system denotes the network of cells – including the sensory neurons located on the antennae and the interneurons located in several areas of the brain such as the antennal lobe, the mushroom body, and the lateral horn – that work together to enable the sense of smell in an insect. Here we describe this circuit and consider why it makes a good model system for computational modeling of neural circuits.
Olfaction presents some difficult problems. Unlike the visual or the auditory system, whose stimuli – light or sound – can be described along the dimensions of frequency and intensity, the olfactory system works with volatile chemicals, which come in numerous shapes and sizes, defying easy description in one or a few dimensions. But, like visual and auditory stimuli, olfactory stimuli may also vary in their intensity, timing, or spatial distribution. It remains a puzzle how the brain makes sense of this multidimensional input (Laurent 2002)....
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