Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mice and men express the same olfactory preferences

21.01.2009
Humans and mice are attracted by the same odors. This has been revealed for the first time by a team of French researchers in the "Neurosciences sensorielles, comportement, cognition" Unit (CNRS / Université Lyon 1).

Published on January 16, 2009 in the journal Plos One, their work confirms that olfactory preferences are not solely determined by experience or culture, but also by the structure of the odorant molecule.

It will undoubtedly enable a clearer understanding of the neuronal mechanisms coding for olfactory perception. More immediately, it may be possible to predict human olfactory preferences based on those observed in the mouse.

In humans, odors strongly influence numerous compartments of daily living, such as sexual activity, social relations or food intake. Some are pleasant, others unpleasant, and induce attraction or repulsion, respectively. This positive or negative hedonic value of an odor is very markedly affected by the experience and culture of the individual. For example, if we consider camembert cheese, its odor attracts many French people but may be repulsive to an individual from another culture.

And what if olfactory preferences involved an innate characteristic? They would then be dictated by the chemical structure and physical properties (1) of the odorant molecule. To answer this question, Nathalie Mandairon and Moustafa Bensafi, CNRS scientists in Anne Didier's team in the "Neurosciences sensorielles, comportement, cognition" laboratory measured the olfactory preferences of humans and mice in response to a series of odors (2). And indeed, although the odor "value" is predetermined by the structure of the odorant molecule, the latter still needs to contain information that will induce choice. If this is the case, then humans and mice faced with the same odor should react in the same way.

In mice, the researchers used the time spent by the animal in exploring a given odor as their index of preference. The human subjects were asked to reach their decision and attribute a "score" ranging from 1 to 9, from the most unpleasant to the most pleasant. At the same time, the duration of sniffing, which tended to be longer when the odor was more pleasant, was also recorded.

The first conclusion was that humans and mice were attracted or repelled by the same odors. Geraniol, a floral odor, was one that was preferred by both species. In contrast, guaiacol, which corresponds to a smell of smoke or burning, was one of the least appreciated. This result demonstrates the conservation of olfactory preferences between these two mammalian species. In addition, the scientists confirmed that this hedonic judgment was closely linked to the structure of the odorant molecule, which thus partly predetermines our olfactory preferences.

No-one had previously suggested so strongly that the neuronal mechanisms coding for olfactory preference were situated at the initial levels of the processing of sensory information. Until now, it had been supposed that anything related to olfactory "judgments" was mainly processed at a high level within the integrative structures of the brain. These findings thus raise hopes of a clearer understanding of these mechanisms and how they function. In the shorter term, they suggest that the behavior of a mouse might predict human olfactory preferences, which could then open the way to practical applications; for example, in the agri-food industry.

(1) Structure implies a series of physicochemical characteristics that describe the odorant molecule.

(2) As odorants are pure entities, they do not necessarily evoke a food.

Julien Guillaume | alfa
Further information:
http://www.cnrs.fr

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond
21.11.2017 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht The main switch
21.11.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

21.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>