About the Lab

Understanding the links between brain activity and sensory perception is a central question that has long inspired neuroscience research. While much of this work has focused on the neural processing of visual objects and visual object categories (e.g., faces, houses, gnomes, supervillains), little is known about the neural processing of odor objects, that is, the quality or character of a smell arising from an odorous object (e.g., minty, lemony, wet-dog, baked bread). Where, and in what form, is perceptual information about odor quality coded in the olfactory brain? What is the neural signature corresponding to the perceived fragrance of chocolate, or of cheese? How do learning and experience modulate perceptual codes of odor objects?

The primary research objective in our lab is to clarify the functional architecture of odor quality coding in the human brain. Our laboratory has considerable experience using olfactory functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure odor-evoked brain activity from human subjects, and we combine this technology with different olfactory psychophysics paradigms and physiological recordings to relate brain, perception, learning, and behavior. More recently, we have introduced multivariate (pattern-based) statistical approaches to the analysis of olfactory fMRI data, providing an exciting new method to examine distributed forms of odor coding in the human brain.

Our current research is organized along four separate but overlapping themes:

  • Odor Object Codes and Categories
  • Effects of Learning and Experience on Odor Perception
  • From Odor Percept to Perceptual Awareness
  • Olfactory Imaging Probes of Alzheimer's Disease

Detailed descriptions of these themes can be found under the "Research" tab.