The contribution of temporal coding to odor coding and odor perception in humans

Ofer Perl, Nahum Nahum, Katya Belelovsky, Rafi Haddad

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4 Scopus citations


Whether neurons encode information through their spike rates, their activity times or both is an ongoing debate in systems neuroscience. Here, we tested whether humans can discriminate between a pair of temporal odor mixtures (TOMs) composed of the same two components delivered in rapid succession in either one temporal order or its reverse. These TOMs presumably activate the same olfactory neurons but at different times and thus differ mainly in the time of neuron activation. We found that most participants could hardly discriminate between TOMs, although they easily discriminated between a TOM and one of its components. By contrast, participants succeeded in discriminating between the TOMs when they were notified of their successive nature in advance. We thus suggest that the time of glomerulus activation can be exploited to extract odor-related information, although it does not change the odor perception substantially, as should be expected from an odor code per se.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere49734
StatePublished - 7 Feb 2020

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