Algorithms for Olfactory Search across Species

J Neurosci. 2018 Oct 31;38(44):9383-9389. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1668-18.2018.


Localizing the sources of stimuli is essential. Most organisms cannot eat, mate, or escape without knowing where the relevant stimuli originate. For many, if not most, animals, olfaction plays an essential role in search. While microorganismal chemotaxis is relatively well understood, in larger animals the algorithms and mechanisms of olfactory search remain mysterious. In this symposium, we will present recent advances in our understanding of olfactory search in flies and rodents. Despite their different sizes and behaviors, both species must solve similar problems, including meeting the challenges of turbulent airflow, sampling the environment to optimize olfactory information, and incorporating odor information into broader navigational systems.

Keywords: active sensing; memory; olfaction; olfactory navigation; olfactory search; turbulence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Environment*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology
  • Odorants*
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Species Specificity