Self-organization in the olfactory system: one shot odor recognition in insects

Biol Cybern. 2005 Dec;93(6):436-46. doi: 10.1007/s00422-005-0019-7. Epub 2005 Nov 18.


We show in a model of spiking neurons that synaptic plasticity in the mushroom bodies in combination with the general fan-in, fan-out properties of the early processing layers of the olfactory system might be sufficient to account for its efficient recognition of odors. For a large variety of initial conditions the model system consistently finds a working solution without any fine-tuning, and is, therefore, inherently robust. We demonstrate that gain control through the known feedforward inhibition of lateral horn interneurons increases the capacity of the system but is not essential for its general function. We also predict an upper limit for the number of odor classes Drosophila can discriminate based on the number and connectivity of its olfactory neurons.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Insecta / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Odorants*
  • Olfactory Pathways* / cytology
  • Olfactory Pathways* / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological / physiology*