Olfactory Behavior: Making Scents of a Changing World

  • Kathleen E. Whitlock
Part of the Neuromethods book series (NM, volume 52)


The olfactory sensory system is a part of the nervous system that has something for everyone; with as many as 1,000 genes coding for olfactory receptors it sports the largest gene family in the vertebrate genome; the olfactory sensory neurons regenerate throughout life; the sensory neurons send axons directly into the nervous system with the first synaptic contact occurring within the olfactory bulb; and it is the functional unit for essential behaviors such as courtship, predator avoidance and localization of food sources. Olfactory behaviors are unique in that the sensory coding of the system is not understood in as much detail as other sensory systems such as the visual and auditory systems, and the central projections are processed differently within the central nervous system. Here I review aspects of olfactory behaviors in fish, with an emphasis on zebrafish, and ponder the future of olfactory behavior research in the coming decade.

Key words

Olfactory system olfactory imprinting olfactory receptors olfactory neurons olfactory-directed movement self-recognition Immediate Early Genes hormones fluid movement sensory integration imprinting 



I would like to thank Kyle Young, Paul Howes, and Jessica Stephensen of the Darwin Initiative for introducing me to the life of puye, J. Ewer for critical reading of the manuscript, and my lab for their interest and support. Our work is supported by FONDECYT 1071071 (KW), MIDEPLAN, Millennium Science Initiative Program (KW), NIH/NIDCD R01 050820 (KW).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen E. Whitlock
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Genomicas Celular, Centro de Neurociencia de Valparaíso (CNV)Universidad de ValparaísoValparaísoChile

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