Shades of yellow: interactive effects of visual and odour cues in a pest beetle.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:The visual ecology of pest insects is poorly studied compared to the role of odour cues in determining their behaviour. Furthermore, the combined effects of both odour and vision on insect orientation are frequently ignored, but could impact behavioural responses. METHODS:A locomotion compensator was used to evaluate use of different visual stimuli by a major coleopteran pest of stored grains (Sitophilus zeamais), with and without the presence of host odours (known to be attractive to this species), in an open-loop setup. RESULTS:Some visual stimuli-in particular, one shade of yellow, solid black and high-contrast black-against-white stimuli-elicited positive orientation behaviour from the beetles in the absence of odour stimuli. When host odours were also present, at 90° to the source of the visual stimulus, the beetles presented with yellow and vertical black-on-white grating patterns changed their walking course and typically adopted a path intermediate between the two stimuli. The beetles presented with a solid black-on-white target continued to orient more strongly towards the visual than the odour stimulus. DISCUSSION:Visual stimuli can strongly influence orientation behaviour, even in species where use of visual cues is sometimes assumed to be unimportant, while the outcomes from exposure to multimodal stimuli are unpredictable and need to be determined under differing conditions. The importance of the two modalities of stimulus (visual and olfactory) in food location is likely to depend upon relative stimulus intensity and motivational state of the insect.
Project description:Lesion experiments suggest that odour input to the olfactory bulb contains significant redundant signal such that rodents can discern odours using minimal stimulus-related information. Here we investigate the dependence of odour-quality perception on the integrity of glomerular activity by comparing odour-evoked activity maps before and after epithelial lesions. Lesions prevent mice from recognizing previously experienced odours and differentially delay discrimination learning of unrecognized and novel odour pairs. Poor recognition results not from mice experiencing an altered concentration of an odour but from perception of apparent novel qualities. Consistent with this, relative intensity of glomerular activity following lesions is altered compared with maps recorded in shams and by varying odour concentration. Together, these data show that odour recognition relies on comprehensively matching input patterns to a previously generated stimulus template. When encountering novel odours, access to all glomerular activity ensures rapid generation of new templates to perform accurate perceptual judgements.
Project description:Perceptually similar stimuli often predict vastly different outcomes, requiring the brain to maintain specific associations in the face of potential ambiguity. This could be achieved either through local changes in stimulus representations, or through modulation of functional connections between stimulus-coding and outcome-coding regions. Here we test these competing hypotheses using classical conditioning of perceptually similar odours in the context of human fMRI. Pattern-based analyses of odour-evoked fMRI activity reveal that odour category, identity and value are coded in piriform (PC), orbitofrontal (OFC) and ventromedial prefrontal (vmPFC) cortices, respectively. However, we observe no learning-related reorganization of category or identity representations. Instead, changes in connectivity between vmPFC and OFC are correlated with learning-related changes in value, whereas connectivity changes between vmPFC and PC predict changes in perceived odour similarity. These results demonstrate that dissociable neural pathways support associative and perceptual representations of sensory stimuli.
Project description:High-sugar/high-fat foods are related to binge-eating behaviour and especially people with low inhibitory control may encounter elevated difficulties to resist their intake. Incentive sensitization to food-related cues might lead to increased motivated attention towards these stimuli and to cue-induced craving. To investigate the combined influence of olfactory and visual stimuli on craving, inhibitory control and motivated attention, 20 healthy controls and 19 individuals with binge-eating viewed chocolate and neutral pictures, primed by chocolate or neutral odours. Subjective craving and electroencephalogram activity were recorded during the task. N2 and Late Positive Potential (LPP) amplitudes were analysed. Patients reported higher craving than controls. Subjective craving, N2 and LPP amplitudes were higher for chocolate versus neutral pictures. Patients showed a higher relative increase in N2 amplitudes to chocolate versus neutral pictures than controls. Chocolate images induced significant increases in craving, motivated attention and measures of cognitive control. Chocolate odour might potentiate the craving response to visual stimuli, especially in patients with binge-eating.
Project description:The stimulus complexity of naturally occurring odours presents unique challenges for central nervous systems that are aiming to internalize the external olfactory landscape. One mechanism by which the brain encodes perceptual representations of behaviourally relevant smells is through the synthesis of different olfactory inputs into a unified perceptual experience--an odour object. Recent evidence indicates that the identification, categorization and discrimination of olfactory stimuli rely on the formation and modulation of odour objects in the piriform cortex. Convergent findings from human and rodent models suggest that distributed piriform ensemble patterns of olfactory qualities and categories are crucial for maintaining the perceptual constancy of ecologically inconstant stimuli.
Project description:Cataglyphis fortis ants forage individually for dead arthropods in the inhospitable salt-pans of Tunisia. Locating the inconspicuous nest after a foraging run of more than 100 meters demands a remarkable orientation capability. As a result of high temperatures and the unpredictable distribution of food, Cataglyphis ants do not lay pheromone trails. Instead, path integration is the fundamental system of long-distance navigation. This system constantly informs a foraging ant about its position relative to the nest. In addition, the ants rely on visual landmarks as geocentric navigational cues to finally pinpoint the nest entrance.Apart from the visual cues within the ants' habitat, we found potential olfactory landmark information with different odour blends coupled to various ground structures. Here we show that Cataglyphis ants can use olfactory information in order to locate their nest entrance. Ants were trained to associate their nest entrance with a single odour. In a test situation, they focused their nest search on the position of the training odour but not on the positions of non-training odours. When trained to a single odour, the ants were able to recognise this odour within a mixture of four odours.The uniform salt-pans become less homogenous if one takes olfactory landmarks into account. As Cataglyphis ants associate environmental odours with the nest entrance they can be said to use olfactory landmarks in the vicinity of the nest for homing.
Project description:Whether emotional stimuli influence both response readiness and inhibition is highly controversial. Visual emotional stimuli appear to interfere with both under certain conditions (e.g., task relevance). Whether the effect is generalisable to salient yet task-irrelevant stimuli, such as odours, remains elusive. We tested the effect of orthonasally-presented pleasant (orange) and unpleasant odours (trimethyloxazole and hexenol) and clean air as a control on response inhibition. In emotional Go/No-Go paradigms, we manipulated the intertrial interval and ratios of Go/No-Go trials to account for motor (Experiment 1, N?=?31) and cognitive (Experiment 2, N?=?29) response inhibition processes. In Experiment 1, participants had greater difficulty in withholding and produced more accurate and faster Go responses under the pleasant vs. the control condition. Faster Go responses were also evident in the unpleasant vs. the control condition. In Experiment 2, neither pleasant nor unpleasant odours modulated action withholding, but both elicited more accurate and faster Go responses as compared to the control condition. Pleasant odours significantly impair action withholding (as compared to the control condition), indicating that more inhibitory resources are required to elicit successful inhibition in the presence of positive emotional information. This modulation was revealed for the motor aspect of response inhibition (fast-paced design with lower Go/No-Go trial ratio) rather than for attentional interference processes. Response readiness is critically impacted by the emotional nature of the odour (but not by its valence). Our findings highlight that the valence of task-irrelevant odour stimuli is a factor significantly influencing response inhibition.
Project description:Across multiple taxa, population structure and dynamics depend on effective signalling between individuals. Among mammals, chemical communication is arguably the most important sense, underpinning mate choice, parental care, territoriality and even disease transmission. There is a growing body of evidence that odours signal genetic information that may confer considerable benefits including inbreeding avoidance and nepotism. To date, however, there has been no clear evidence that odours encode population-level information in wild mammals. Here we demonstrate for the first time the existence of 'odour dialects' in genetically distinct mammalian subpopulations across a large geographical scale. We found that otters, Lutra lutra, from across the United Kingdom possess sex and biogeography-specific odours. Subpopulations with the most distinctive odour profiles are also the most genetically diverse but not the most genetically differentiated. Furthermore, geographic distance between individuals does not explain regional odour differences, refuting other potential explanations such as group odour sharing behaviour. Differences in the language of odours between subpopulations have the potential to affect individual interactions, which could impact reproduction and gene-flow.
Project description:Perceptual similarity between stimuli is often assessed via generalization, the response to stimuli that are similar to the one which was previously conditioned. Although conditioning procedures are variable, studies on how this variation may affect perceptual similarity remain scarce. Here, we use a combination of behavioural and computational analyses to investigate the influence of olfactory conditioning procedures on odour generalization in ants. Insects were trained following either absolute conditioning, in which a single odour (an aldehyde) was rewarded with sucrose, or differential conditioning, in which one odour (the same aldehyde) was similarly rewarded and another odour (an aldehyde differing in carbon-chain length) was punished with quinine. The response to the trained odours and generalization to other aldehydes were assessed. We show that olfactory similarity, rather than being immutable, varies with the conditioning procedure. Compared with absolute conditioning, differential conditioning enhances olfactory discrimination. This improvement is best described by a multiplicative interaction between two independent processes, the excitatory and inhibitory generalization gradients induced by the rewarded and the punished odour, respectively. We show that olfactory similarity is dramatically shaped by an individual's perceptual experience and suggest a new hypothesis for the nature of stimulus interactions underlying experience-dependent changes in perceptual similarity.
Project description:Body odours reportedly portray information about an individual's genotype at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC, called human leucocyte antigen, HLA, in humans). While there is strong experimental support for MHC-associated mating behaviour in animals, the situation in humans is more complex. A lot of effort has been spent on testing HLA-associated odour preferences of women. To date, only very few studies have looked at HLA-linked olfactory preferences in men and these studies have revealed inconsistent results. Here, we investigate men's HLA-associated preferences for women's body odours. Importantly, and in contrast to previous studies, these odours were gathered at peak fertility (i.e. just before ovulation) when any HLA-associated odour preferences should be strongest. We scrutinized whether men's preference for women's body odours is influenced by (i) the number of shared HLA alleles between men and women, (ii) HLA heterozygosity, and (iii) the frequency of rare HLA alleles. We found that men could readily differentiate between odours they found attractive and odours they found less attractive, but that these preferences were not associated with HLA. Specifically, men did not prefer odours from women who are HLA dissimilar, HLA heterozygous, or who have rare HLA alleles. Together, these findings suggest that HLA has no effect on men's odour preferences.
Project description:How do physico-chemical stimulus features, perception, and physiology relate? Given the multi-layered and parallel architecture of brains, the question specifically is where physiological activity patterns correspond to stimulus features and/or perception. Perceived distances between six odour pairs are defined behaviourally from four independent odour recognition tasks. We find that, in register with the physico-chemical distances of these odours, perceived distances for 3-octanol and n-amylacetate are consistently smallest in all four tasks, while the other five odour pairs are about equally distinct. Optical imaging in the antennal lobe, using a calcium sensor transgenically expressed in only first-order sensory or only second-order olfactory projection neurons, reveals that 3-octanol and n-amylacetate are distinctly represented in sensory neurons, but appear merged in projection neurons. These results may suggest that within-antennal lobe processing funnels sensory signals into behaviourally meaningful categories, in register with the physico-chemical relatedness of the odours.