How does the brain encode stimuli from the outside world to give rise to perceptions? What does a smell look like in the brain? The focus of my group is to understand how neural circuits compute sensory-motor transformations across different contexts, senses, and brain states to generate meaningful behaviors.
How does the brain encode stimuli from the outside world, within and across sensory modalities, to generate specific perceptions that trigger complex behaviors? How is the brain shaped by sensory experience, and what modifications occur in neuronal circuits that allow us to learn and remember? These are the questions guiding the work of Florin Albeanu, who is using the olfactory bulb and olfactory cortex of mice as the subject of his current studies. Airborne chemicals, translated into neuronal signals by specific receptors in the nose, are sent directly to the olfactory bulb. Advances in optical imaging and optogenetics combined with electrophysiological recordings enable Albeanu and colleagues to monitor and/or alter patterns of activity at unprecedented synaptic and millisecond resolution, in real time, as animals are engaged in various behaviors. For survival, rodents need to identify the smells of objects of interest such as food, mates, and predators, across their recurring appearances in the surroundings, despite apparent variations in their features. Furthermore, animals aptly extract relevant information about environment across different sensory modalities, combining olfactory, visual, or auditory cues. By recording neuronal activity in the input and output layers of the olfactory bulb, as well as feedback from olfactory cortical areas and neuromodulatory signals, Albeanu and his team aim to understand computations the bulb performs and how this information is decoded deeper in the brain. They have recently published evidence suggesting that the mouse olfactory bulb is not merely a relay station between the nose and cortex, as many have supposed. Using optogenetic tools and a novel patterned illumination technique, they discovered that there are many more information output channels leaving the olfactory bulb for the cortex than there are inputs received from the nose. They are currently investigating how this diversity of bulb outputs is generated, as well as how downstream areas, such as the piriform and parietal cortex, make use of such information during behaviors.
Watson School alumni spotlights
May 19, 2019
This year, the Watson School of Biological Sciences celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first entering class of six Ph.D. candidates in September 1999. At CSHL, students are introduced to a broad and multi-disciplinary way to study biological sciences, and think critically to solve problems in their research. The school’s mission has remained the same...
What’s that smell? Neuroscientists are figuring it out
October 2, 2018
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Associate Professor Florin Albeanu and Professor Alexei Koulakov have received the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Transformative Research Award for an innovative neuroscience research project on the olfactory system, one of the basic senses that is still quite mysterious. The project will study how the brain interprets smell, an...
Portrait of a Neuroscience Powerhouse
April 27, 2018
At noon every Tuesday from September through June, scenes from a revolution in neuroscience are playing out at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Week after week, over 100 scientists cram themselves into a ground-floor meeting room in the Beckman Laboratory. It’s standing-room only as everyone in the Neuroscience Program settles in to hear details of the...
New leadership roles in BRAIN Initiative and International Brain Lab reflect CSHL’s excellence in neuroscience
October 24, 2017
Cold Spring Harbor, NY — The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) yesterday announced multiple grant awards totaling $50 million per year for five years to fund cutting-edge research on the brain. The project, part of the BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), establishes a Center and a...
DIY neuroscience opens up a universe of possibilities in Transylvania
June 1, 2016
Too many scientists become limited by the availability of expensive, sophisticated tools, according to CSHL Associate Professor Florin Albeanu. He hopes to change that by essentially teaching a DIY approach to neuroscience. o-it-yourself (“DIY”) science evokes images of amateur scientists tinkering with test tubes in garages on the weekends. So, at first, the picture of...
Revised view of brain circuit reveals how we avoid being overwhelmed by powerful odors
July 1, 2015
Cold Spring Harbor, NY — You’ve just encountered a frightened skunk, which has sprayed a generous quantity of its sulfur-containing scent directly in your path. The noxious odor is overpowering. As you turn to run in the opposite direction, you are performing with your feet an operation analogous to one that each of your senses...
Neuroscientists discover how feedback from the cortex helps mammals make fine distinctions about odors
June 4, 2015
Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Everyday tasks we may think simple—for example, knowing the difference between the smell of an orange and a pickle—are actually marvels of evolutionary development, the work of eons. A neuroscience team at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) today reports in Neuron results of experiments that suggest how the mammalian brain...
Swartz Centers dedication
April 1, 2015
An official recognition of Jerome Swartz for his 25+ years of friendship and generous support of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory neuroscience programs was held on Wednesday, April 1 with the dedication of the Swartz Centers for Theoretical Neuroscience and Neural Mechanisms of Cognition. Jerry, co-founder and former CEO of Symbol Technologies was the 1999 recipient...
New research on what the nose ‘knows’ reveals an unexpected simplicity
January 11, 2015
In rats, olfactory bulb neurons use simple ‘linear summation’ to make sense of fluctuating odor inputs from the surrounding environment Cold Spring Harbor, NY — What the nose knows is quite amazing, when you think about it. The moment you encounter an awful odor—spoiled milk, say, or the scent of skunk—you reflexively recoil in disgust....
4 CSHL scientists will contribute to President’s BRAIN Initiative under new NIH grants
September 30, 2014
Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Four scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) will perform research in President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative under two new CSHL grants announced in Washington today. The CSHL grants are among more than 100 issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), totaling $46 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year. They...
Kebschull, Justus M and Garcia da Silva, Pedro and Reid, Ashlan P and Peikon, Ian D and Albeanu, Dinu F and Zador, Anthony M (2016) High-Throughput Mapping of Single-Neuron Projections by Sequencing of Barcoded RNA. Neuron, 91(5) pp. 975-987.
Yu, K. and Garcia da Silva, P. and Albeanu, D. F. and Li, B. (2016) Central Amygdala Somatostatin Neurons Gate Passive and Active Defensive Behaviors. J Neurosci, 36(24) pp. 6488-96.
Banerjee, A. and Marbach, F. and Anselmi, F. and Koh, M. S. and Davis, M. B. and Garcia da Silva, P. and Delevich, K. and Oyibo, H. K. and Gupta, P. and Li, B. and Albeanu, D. F. (2015) An Interglomerular Circuit Gates Glomerular Output and Implements Gain Control in the Mouse Olfactory Bulb. Neuron, 87(1) pp. 193-207.
Otazu, Gonzalo H and Chae, Honggoo and Davis, Martin B and Albeanu, Dinu F (2015) Cortical Feedback Decorrelates Olfactory Bulb Output in Awake Mice. Neuron, 86(6) pp. 1461-1477.
Gupta, P. and Albeanu, D. F. and Bhalla, U. S. (2015) Olfactory bulb coding of odors, mixtures and sniffs is a linear sum of odor time profiles. Nature Neuroscience, 18 pp. 272-281.
Anselmi, Francesca and Banerjee, Arkarup and Albeanu, Dinu F. (2015) Patterned Photostimulation in the Brain. In: New Techniques in Systems Neuroscience. Douglass, Adam D. (Ed.). pp. 235-270. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
Spors, H. and Albeanu, D. F. and Murthy, V. N. and Rinberg, D. and Uchida, N. and Wachowiak, M. and Friedrich, R. W. (2012) Illuminating Vertebrate Olfactory Processing. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(41) pp. 14102-14108.
Dhawale, A. K. and Hagiwara, A. and Bhalla, U. S. and Murthy, V. N. and Albeanu, D. F. (2010) Non-redundant odor coding by sister mitral cells revealed by light addressable glomeruli in the mouse. Nature Neuroscience, 13 pp. 1404-12.
Soucy, E. R. and Albeanu, D. F. and Fantana, A. L. and Murthy, V. N. and Meister, M. (2009) Precision and diversity in an odor map on the olfactory bulb. Nature Neuroscience, 12(2) pp. 210-220.Additional materials of the author at
CSHL Institutional Repository