A model of olfactory adaptation and sensitivity enhancement in the olfactory bulb

Biol Cybern. 1990;62(4):349-61. doi: 10.1007/BF00201449.


It has been suggested that the olfactory bulb, the first processing center after the sensory cells in the olfactory pathway, plays a role in olfactory adaptation, odor sensitivity enhancement by motivation and other olfactory psychophysical phenomena. In a mathematical model based on the bulbar anatomy and physiology, the inputs from the higher olfactory centers to the inhibitory cells in the bulb are shown to be able to modulate the response, and thus the sensitivity of the bulb to specific odor inputs. It follows that the bulb can decrease its sensitivity to a pre-existing and detected odor (adaptation) while remaining sensitive to new odors, or increase its sensitivity to interested searching odors. Other olfactory psychophysical phenomena such as cross-adaptation etc. are discussed as well.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*