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A specialized odor memory buffer in primary olfactory cortex.

Zelano C, Montag J, Khan R, Sobel N - PLoS ONE (2009)

Bottom Line: The neural substrates of olfactory working memory are unknown.We addressed the questions of whether olfactory working memory involves a verbal representation of the odor, or a sensory image of the odor, or both, and the location of the neural substrates of these processes.These findings suggest a novel dedicated mechanism in primary olfactory cortex, where odor information is maintained in temporary storage to subserve ongoing tasks.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel. czelano@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

Background: The neural substrates of olfactory working memory are unknown. We addressed the questions of whether olfactory working memory involves a verbal representation of the odor, or a sensory image of the odor, or both, and the location of the neural substrates of these processes.

Methodology/principal findings: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure activity in the brains of subjects who were remembering either nameable or unnameable odorants. We found a double dissociation whereby remembering nameable odorants was reflected in sustained activity in prefrontal language areas, and remembering unnameable odorants was reflected in sustained activity in primary olfactory cortex.

Conclusions/significance: These findings suggest a novel dedicated mechanism in primary olfactory cortex, where odor information is maintained in temporary storage to subserve ongoing tasks.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Behavioral results.A. Psychophysical ratings of odorant nameability, pleasantness and intensity. Odorants classified as unnameable were rated as significantly more difficult to name than odors classified as nameable. However, subjects rated both classifications of odorants to be equal in pleasantness and intensity. B. Subjects performance on the delayed match to sample task. Subjects performed better in the conditions with a 5 second delay between odor presentations than the conditions with a 10 second delay between odor presentations. There was no difference in performance across odor subcategories.
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pone-0004965-g002: Behavioral results.A. Psychophysical ratings of odorant nameability, pleasantness and intensity. Odorants classified as unnameable were rated as significantly more difficult to name than odors classified as nameable. However, subjects rated both classifications of odorants to be equal in pleasantness and intensity. B. Subjects performance on the delayed match to sample task. Subjects performed better in the conditions with a 5 second delay between odor presentations than the conditions with a 10 second delay between odor presentations. There was no difference in performance across odor subcategories.

Mentions: To compare these alternative hypotheses we first scanned 10 healthy participants during an olfactory delayed match to sample task (figure 1) wherein they remembered odorants that were either easy to name (from here on nameable) or hard to name (from here on unnameable) (figure 2A). The task consisted of two sniffs spaced either 5 or 10 seconds apart. The two sniffs, that were the same 50% of the time, consisted of either two nameable odorants, two unnameable odorants, or one nameable and one unnameable odorant. After the second sniff, subjects pressed a button to indicate whether they judged the two odorants as the same or different. In other words, the task demanded that subjects remember a nameable or unnameable odor for either 5 or 10 seconds.


A specialized odor memory buffer in primary olfactory cortex.

Zelano C, Montag J, Khan R, Sobel N - PLoS ONE (2009)

Behavioral results.A. Psychophysical ratings of odorant nameability, pleasantness and intensity. Odorants classified as unnameable were rated as significantly more difficult to name than odors classified as nameable. However, subjects rated both classifications of odorants to be equal in pleasantness and intensity. B. Subjects performance on the delayed match to sample task. Subjects performed better in the conditions with a 5 second delay between odor presentations than the conditions with a 10 second delay between odor presentations. There was no difference in performance across odor subcategories.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2654926&req=5

pone-0004965-g002: Behavioral results.A. Psychophysical ratings of odorant nameability, pleasantness and intensity. Odorants classified as unnameable were rated as significantly more difficult to name than odors classified as nameable. However, subjects rated both classifications of odorants to be equal in pleasantness and intensity. B. Subjects performance on the delayed match to sample task. Subjects performed better in the conditions with a 5 second delay between odor presentations than the conditions with a 10 second delay between odor presentations. There was no difference in performance across odor subcategories.
Mentions: To compare these alternative hypotheses we first scanned 10 healthy participants during an olfactory delayed match to sample task (figure 1) wherein they remembered odorants that were either easy to name (from here on nameable) or hard to name (from here on unnameable) (figure 2A). The task consisted of two sniffs spaced either 5 or 10 seconds apart. The two sniffs, that were the same 50% of the time, consisted of either two nameable odorants, two unnameable odorants, or one nameable and one unnameable odorant. After the second sniff, subjects pressed a button to indicate whether they judged the two odorants as the same or different. In other words, the task demanded that subjects remember a nameable or unnameable odor for either 5 or 10 seconds.

Bottom Line: The neural substrates of olfactory working memory are unknown.We addressed the questions of whether olfactory working memory involves a verbal representation of the odor, or a sensory image of the odor, or both, and the location of the neural substrates of these processes.These findings suggest a novel dedicated mechanism in primary olfactory cortex, where odor information is maintained in temporary storage to subserve ongoing tasks.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel. czelano@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

Background: The neural substrates of olfactory working memory are unknown. We addressed the questions of whether olfactory working memory involves a verbal representation of the odor, or a sensory image of the odor, or both, and the location of the neural substrates of these processes.

Methodology/principal findings: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure activity in the brains of subjects who were remembering either nameable or unnameable odorants. We found a double dissociation whereby remembering nameable odorants was reflected in sustained activity in prefrontal language areas, and remembering unnameable odorants was reflected in sustained activity in primary olfactory cortex.

Conclusions/significance: These findings suggest a novel dedicated mechanism in primary olfactory cortex, where odor information is maintained in temporary storage to subserve ongoing tasks.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus