Smell something? Ask the rat -- he 'nose'

Feb 07, 2006
rat

A Bangalore, India, neuroscientist says he's found rats smell in stereo, with each nostril operating independently of the other.

Stereo sniffing likely gives rats a leg up in everything from tracking down a meal to evading an enemy, said Upinder Bhalla of the National Center for Biological Sciences in Bangalore.

"Imagine you have a predator sneaking up on you," he told National Geographic News during an e-mail interview. "If you can smell in stereo, you can detect and localize it in one sniff, and you'll have a decent chance of getting away. If you have to look around, or take multiple sniffs to find the predator, you may get eaten."

He said his study provides insight into the spatial dimension of smell and the speed at which the brain operates.

Once trained, rats in the study could determine the direction of a smell in as little as 50 milliseconds. According to a 1992 study, one sniff takes humans about 700 or more milliseconds to process.

Bhalla is a co-author of the study reported in the current issues of the journal Science.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Pop music heritage contributes to the formation of identity

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Evidence that at least one mammal can smell in stereo

Feb 05, 2013

Most mammals, including humans, see in stereo and hear in stereo. But whether they can also smell in stereo is the subject of a long-standing scientific controversy. Now, a new study shows definitively that ...

Recommended for you

Pop music heritage contributes to the formation of identity

5 hours ago

The musical rebels of the past are today's museum pieces. Pop music is increasingly penetrating heritage institutions such as museums and archives. That is apparent from the PhD research of Arno van der Hoeven. On Thursday ...

Helping older employees stay in their jobs

5 hours ago

Factors that can hinder older employees from continuing to work include workload, a poor memory and the pensionable age-effect. The Job-Exposure Matrix is a newly developed instrument that provides an easy way to chart the ...

Explainer: What is a small private online course?

7 hours ago

If you have studied an online course at a university over the past couple of decades, you've probably already experienced a SPOC, or Small Private Online Course. SPOC is a new term for an old concept, which appears to be frustrating members of the distance edu ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.