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.
There’s more to smell than meets the nose
July 22, 2019
Neuroscience researchers work to figure out our brains process smells, including what features are essential to identifying and separating odors.
Quantifying how the brain smells
July 22, 2019
Neuroscience researchers at CSHL are trying to figure out how the brain processes smells and what features of odors are important in that process.
Watson School alumni spotlights
May 19, 2019
This year, Watson School celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first entering class and looks back at some notable alumni from over the years.
What’s that smell? Neuroscientists are figuring it out
October 2, 2018
Neuroscientists Florin Albeanu and Alexei Koulakov win the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award for their project on the olfactory system.
Portrait of a Neuroscience Powerhouse
April 27, 2018
A relatively small neuroscience group at CSHL is having an outsized impact on a dynamic and highly competitive field
New leadership roles in BRAIN Initiative and International Brain Lab reflect CSHL’s excellence in neuroscience
October 24, 2017
The BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network establishes a Center and a Collaboratory for the Mouse Brain Cell Atlas at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
DIY neuroscience opens up a universe of possibilities in Transylvania
June 1, 2016
Do-it-yourself (“DIY”) science evokes images of amateur scientists tinkering with test tubes in garages on the weekends.
Revised view of brain circuit reveals how we avoid being overwhelmed by powerful odors
July 1, 2015
Researchers discover neural circuit in the mouse olfactory bulb that shows how our mammalian cousins adjust to intense odors.
Neuroscientists discover how feedback from the cortex helps mammals make fine distinctions about odors
June 4, 2015
Researchers study the feedback loop of the olfactory bulb sends output to and receives feedback from multiple parts of the 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.