Predicting the response of olfactory sensory neurons to odor mixtures from single odor response

Sci Rep. 2016 Apr 7:6:24091. doi: 10.1038/srep24091.


The response of olfactory receptor neurons to odor mixtures is not well understood. Here, using experimental constraints, we investigate the mathematical structure of the odor response space and its consequences. The analysis suggests that the odor response space is 3-dimensional, and predicts that the dose-response curve of an odor receptor can be obtained, in most cases, from three primary components with specific properties. This opens the way to an objective procedure to obtain specific olfactory receptor responses by manipulating mixtures in a mathematically predictable manner. This result is general and applies, independently of the number of odor components, to any olfactory sensory neuron type with a response curve that can be represented as a sigmoidal function of the odor concentration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Models, Biological*
  • Odorants*
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results