TitleRobust and Rapid Air-Borne Odor Tracking without Casting(1,2,3).
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBhattacharyya U, Bhalla USingh
Date Published2015 Nov-Dec

Casting behavior (zigzagging across an odor stream) is common in air/liquid-borne odor tracking in open fields; however, terrestrial odor localization often involves path selection in a familiar environment. To study this, we trained rats to run toward an odor source in a multi-choice olfactory arena with near-laminar airflow. We find that rather than casting, rats run directly toward an odor port, and if this is incorrect, they serially sample other sources. This behavior is consistent and accurate in the presence of perturbations, such as novel odors, background odor, unilateral nostril stitching, and turbulence. We developed a model that predicts that this run-and-scan tracking of air-borne odors is faster than casting, provided there are a small number of targets at known locations. Thus, the combination of best-guess target selection with fallback serial sampling provides a rapid and robust strategy for finding odor sources in familiar surroundings.

Alternate JournaleNeuro
PubMed ID26665165
PubMed Central IDPMC4674010