The speed of smell: odor-object segregation within milliseconds

PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e36096. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036096. Epub 2012 Apr 27.


Segregating objects from background, and determining which of many concurrent stimuli belong to the same object, remains one of the most challenging unsolved problems both in neuroscience and in technical applications. While this phenomenon has been investigated in depth in vision and audition it has hardly been investigated in olfaction. We found that for honeybees a 6-ms temporal difference in stimulus coherence is sufficient for odor-object segregation, showing that the temporal resolution of the olfactory system is much faster than previously thought.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Odorants / analysis*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Time Factors