A Systems Perspective on Early Olfactory Coding

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Science  22 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5440, pp. 723-728
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5440.723

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This review critically examines neuronal coding strategies and how they might apply to olfactory processing. Basic notions such as identity, spatial, temporal, and correlation codes are defined and different perspectives are brought to the study of neural codes. Odors as physical stimuli and their processing by the early olfactory system, one or two synapses away from the receptors, are discussed. Finally, the concept of lateral inhibition, as usually understood and applied to odor coding by mitral (or equivalent) cells, is challenged and extended to a broader context, possibly more appropriate for olfactory processing.

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