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Deconstructing the mouse olfactory percept through an ethological atlas

journal contribution
submitted on 2024-05-07, 04:44 and posted on 2024-05-07, 04:44 authored by Diogo Manoel, Melanie Makhlouf, Charles J. Arayata, Abbirami Sathappan, Sahar Da’as, Doua Abdelrahman, Senthil Selvaraj, Reem Hasnah, Joel D. Mainland, Richard C. Gerkin, Luis R. Saraiva

Odor perception in non-humans is poorly understood. Here, we generated the most comprehensive mouse olfactory ethological atlas to date, consisting of behavioral responses to a diverse panel of 73 odorants, including 12 at multiple concentrations. These data revealed that mouse behavior is incredibly diverse and changes in response to odorant identity and concentration. Using only behavioral responses observed in other mice, we could predict which of two odorants was presented to a held-out mouse 82% of the time. Considering all 73 possible odorants, we could uniquely identify the target odorant from behavior on the first try 20% of the time and 46% within five attempts. Although mouse behavior is difficult to predict from human perception, they share three fundamental properties: first, odor valence parameters explained the highest variance of olfactory perception. Second, physicochemical properties of odorants can be used to predict the olfactory percept. Third, odorant concentration quantitatively and qualitatively impacts olfactory perception. These results increase our understanding of mouse olfactory behavior and how it compares to human odor perception and provide a template for future comparative studies of olfactory percepts among species.

Other Information

Published in: Current Biology
See article on publisher's website:



  • English



Publication Year

  • 2021

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Sidra Medicine
  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • College of Health and Life Sciences - HBKU

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