Parallel olfactory processing in the mammalian brain


Wednesday, December 16, 2020 - 17:30





Parallel olfactory processing in the mammalian brain


Sensory systems of the brain play a crucial role in extracting and formatting relevant information from the environment to guide animals’ behaviour. This process often involves parallel processing, with segregated information streams to convey distinct information. This may allow animals to respond to sensory cues with a variety of behavioural repertoires. Mammalian olfactory processing in the brain starts in the olfactory bulb. The signals processed here are ultimately conveyed by two types of principal neurons, namely mitral and tufted cells. These two neuron classes differ in several anatomical and physiological traits, are therefore thought to play distinct roles, though exactly what information they convey remains unclear. In this talk, I will describe some of the early discoveries made at the University of Tokyo, as well as more recent advances, including on the distinct neural codes used by the two types of principal neurons, and finally our recent effort to generate a new genetic tool that may prove useful to elucidating specific roles that mitral and tufted cells play in olfactory circuit functions, and ultimately, their unique contributions to behaviour.


Dr. Izumi Fukunaga, Assistant Professor, OIST


Izumi grew up in Japan and Malaysia, and went to University College London, UK to study neuroscience. Following a post-doctoral training at the Max-Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany, and Francis Crick Institute in London, UK, she came to OIST to start her group in 2017. The aim of her unit, “Sensory and Behavioural Neuroscience Unit “ is to investigate how sensory circuits in the brain function.

Professional Experience

  •     Career Development Fellow, The Francis Crick Institute, UK
  •     Post-doctoral Fellow, Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Germany


  • Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellowship
  • UCL Alumni scholarship

Selected Publications

  • Koldaeva A., Schaefer A.T., Fukunaga I. (2019) Rapid task-dependent tuning of the mouse olfactory bulb. eLife 8:e43558
  • Fukunaga I., Herb J.T., Kollo M., Boyden E.S. and Schaefer A.T. (2014) Independent control of gamma and theta activity by distinct interneuron networks in the olfactory bulb. Nature Neuroscience 17: 1208-1216.
  •  Fukunaga,I., Berning,M., Kollo,M., Schmalz,A., and Schaefer A.T. (2012) Distinct Temporal Channels of Olfactory Bulb Outp



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