Physiology and perception in Drosophila olfaction
Perception requires the brain. However, neuronal processing is multi-layered and parallel - posing the question where along these processing stages physiological activity patterns indeed determine perception. This is the topic of this proposal, on occasion of olfactory physiology and perception in Drosophila. First, ‘perceiveddistance’ between odours is approximated by a series of odour recognition experiments. Second, using optical imaging we measure odour-induced activity patterns at various stages of the olfactory pathway and derive, for each site, a ‘physiological-distance’ score. This allows us to test whether the physiological distance scores at the respective sites can predict perceived distance- as assayed behaviourally. Specifically, we ask (i) for the relative significance of physiological activity patterns in sensory neurons, projection neurons and mushroom bodies for behavioural similarity judgements, and (ii) whether physiological activity patterns and/ or behavioural similarity judgements are modifiable by experience. These experiments will provide a comprehensive picture of the relation between olfactory physiology and perception- behaviourally conceived.