USTAR Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy,
Brain and Behavior
The Wachowiak Lab
Understanding the basic principles of olfactory function
We study how the nervous system encodes odor information, and how the brain processes this information. In other words, how does the brain identify smells? This is a tough problem because: (1) most smells are complex mixtures of different odor molecules; (2) the number of different smells that an animal must detect and identify is huge; and (3) the olfactory environment is highly varied over time and space. Our focus is on understanding how patterns of neural activity encode odor information and how this code changes as a result of neural processing.
Another major interest of the lab is to understand olfaction as an active sense in which the detection, encoding and processing of odor information is shaped by the animal's behavior at all levels of the nervous system. We use optical imaging as a primary tool to directly visualize neural activity as an animal smells an odor, and also to investigate how neurons process olfactory information using reduced preparations. We image activity in the earliest stages of the olfactory pathway - among olfactory receptor neurons, which detect odorants, and neurons in the olfactory bulb, the first stage of olfactory processing in the brain.
Wachowiak, M. (2011) All in a sniff: olfaction as a model for active sensing. Neuron, 71:962-973.
Carey, R.M., and Wachowiak, M. (2011) Effect of sniffing on the temporal structure of mitral/tufted cell output from the olfactory bulb. J Neurosci, 31:10615-10626.
Cheung, M.C., Carey, R.M., and Wachowiak, M. (2009) A method for generating natural and user-defined sniffing patterns in anesthetized or reduced preparations. Chem Senses, 34:63-76.
Carey, R.M., Verhagen, J.V., Wesson, D.W., Pirez, N., and Wachowiak, M. (2009) Temporal Structure of Receptor Neuron Input to the Olfactory Bulb Imaged in Behaving Rats. J Neurophysiol, 101:1073-1088.
Wesson, D.W., Verhagen, J.V., and Wachowiak, M. (2009) Why Sniff Fast? The Relationship Between Sniff Frequency, Odor Discrimination, and Receptor Neuron Activation in the Rat. J Neurophysiol, 101:1089-1102.
Wachowiak, M., Wesson, D.W., Pirez, N., Verhagen, J.V., and Carey, R.M. (2009) Low-level mechanisms for processing odor information in the behaving animal. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 1170.
Wesson, D.W., Donahou, T.N., Johnson, M.O., and Wachowiak, M. (2008) Sniffing behavior of mice during performance in odor-guided tasks. Chemical Senses, 33:581-596.
Wesson, D.W., Carey, R.M., Verhagen, J.V., and Wachowiak, M. (2008) Rapid Encoding and Perception of Novel Odors in the Rat. PLoS Biology, 6:e82.
Katz, D.B., Matsunami, H., Rinberg, D., Scott, K., Wachowiak, M., and Wilson, R.I. (2008) Receptors, circuits, and behaviors: new directions in chemical senses. J Neurosci, 28:11802-11805.
Pírez, N., and Wachowiak, M. (2008) In vivo modulation of sensory input to the olfactory bulb by tonic and activity-dependent presynaptic inhibition of receptor neurons. J Neurosci, 28:6360-6371.
Verhagen, J.V., Wesson, D.W., Netoff, T.I., White, J.A., and Wachowiak, M. (2007) Sniffing controls an adaptive filter of sensory input to the olfactory bulb. Nat Neurosci, 10:631-639.
Spors, H., Wachowiak, M., Cohen, L.B., and Friedrich, R.W. (2006) Temporal dynamics and latency patterns of receptor neuron input to the olfactory bulb. J Neurosci, 26:1247-1259.
Wachowiak, M., and Shipley, M.T. (2006) Coding and synaptic processing of sensory information in the glomerular layer of the olfactory bulb. Semin Cell Dev Biol, 17:411-423.
McGann, J.P., Pírez, N., Gainey, M.A., Muratore, C., Elias, A.S., and Wachowiak, M. (2005) Odorant representations are modulated by intra- but not interglomerular presynaptic inhibition of olfactory sensory neurons. Neuron, 48:1039-1053.
Wachowiak, M., McGann, J.P., Heyward, P.M., Shao, Z., Puche, A.C., and Shipley, M.T. (2005) Inhibition of olfactory receptor neuron input to olfactory bulb glomeruli mediated by suppression of presynaptic calcium influx. J Neurophysiol, 94:2700-2712.
Bozza, T., McGann, J.P., Mombaerts, P., and Wachowiak, M. (2004) In vivo imaging of neuronal activity by targeted expression of a genetically encoded probe in the mouse. Neuron, 42:9-21.
Wachowiak, M., Denk, W., and Friedrich, R.W. (2004) Functional organization of sensory input to the olfactory bulb glomerulus analyzed by two-photon calcium imaging. PNAS, 101:9097-9102.