Event Abstract

The Bernstein Partner Project 'Olfactory Coding': A joint effort to reveal the neural basis of olfaction

  • 1 Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
  • 2 University of Konstanz, Germany
  • 3 University of Sussex, United Kingdom

The analysis of a complex neuronal system like the olfactory sense is an outstanding scientific challenge. In the Bernstein Partner Project 'Olfactory Coding', we pursue a joint experimental/theoretical approach to study olfaction the honeybee Apis mellifera. Besides structural analogies to vertebrate olfactory systems, it is the honeybee's remarkable performance in associative odor learning which makes it an ideal model organism to study olfaction. The aim of the Partner Project is to combine advanced experimental procedures with excellent data-analysis techniques to gain a deep insight into the neuronal basis and function of the olfactory system. In addition, we use computational models of neuronal networks to interpret our experimental findings and design follow-up experiments. One aim of our collaboration is to elucidate the role of the Antennal Lobe (AL) in appetitive odor learning. The AL is the first instance of olfactory processing in the honeybee brain. Conflicting data exist whether odor coding in projection neurons is affected by appetitive conditioning. In Berlin, we develop a computational model of the network in the AL that can resolve the apparent conflict. This model makes predictions on the effect of octopamine in the AL. In Konstanz, we test these predictions using calcium-imaging experiments to examine the effect of octopamine on AL neurons. To optimize the analysis of calcium-imaging data from insect brains, we developed a software package that provides automatic signal extraction in honeybee brain recordings based on a glomerulus detection and identification algorithm [1]. This software is more powerful than earlier tools and allows a more fine-grained analysis of the experimental results. The improved analysis may lead to a deeper insight in the underlying mechanisms and supports the construction of more accurate computational models.


1. Martin Strauch, C. Giovanni Galizia: Registration to a neuroanatomical reference atlas - identifying glomeruli in optical recordings of the honeybee brain; to appear in: Lecture Notes in Informatics - Proceedings of the GCB 2008

Conference: Bernstein Symposium 2008, Munich, Germany, 8 Oct - 10 Oct, 2008.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Topic: All Abstracts

Citation: Klinke I, Klinke J, Schmuker M, Strauch M, Nowotny T, Galizia GC and Menzel R (2008). The Bernstein Partner Project 'Olfactory Coding': A joint effort to reveal the neural basis of olfaction. Front. Comput. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: Bernstein Symposium 2008. doi: 10.3389/conf.neuro.10.2008.01.073

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Received: 17 Nov 2008; Published Online: 17 Nov 2008.

* Correspondence: Julia Klinke, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany, Julia.Rein@uni-konstanz.de