Methods in rodent chemosensory cognition

Alan Gelperin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Olfactory information processing and learning are highly developed computational abilities of rodents. These attributes can be exploited to ask questions at several levels of complexity, from aspects of odorant binding by olfactory receptors to higher order learning about the predictive consequences of odorant stimulus presentation. Quantitative understanding of rodent odorant sampling patterns, both baseline nasal breathing and odorant-stimulated sniffing, is critical to elucidating mechanisms of olfactory information processing, from primary olfactory receptors to cortical centers that synthesize olfactory percepts from preprocessed multimodal inputs. This chapter outlines an innovative new method for measuring breathing and sniffing rates in unrestrained mice while the mice are performing odor-guided tasks in a computer controlled olfactometer. The method described here involves implantation of a wireless pressure sensor in the mouse that reports on thoracic pressure transients caused by breathing and sniffing. Recordings of pressure sensor outputs are made simultaneously with optically-sensed nose pokes by the mouse into an odor delivery port or a water delivery port. Odorant delivery timing and water reward delivery are also recorded simultaneously. This method allows for breathing and sniffing dependent thoracic pressure transients to be recorded with high temporal precision before, during, and after the mouse approaches an odor delivery port, samples the delivered odor, and obtains a water reward contingent on the identity of the odor that was presented and sampled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


  • Odor learning
  • Odor mixtures
  • Odor sampling
  • Odor stimulus control
  • Olfactometer
  • Olfactory computation
  • Olfactory dynamics
  • Speed accuracy trade-off


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