Dogma says that the vomeronasal organ senses pheromones whereas olfactory sensory neurons of the main olfactory epithelium (MOE) sense only volatile odorants. Now Spehr et al. report that nonvolatile peptides of the main histocompatibility complex (MHC), molecules that code information about individuality, also activate the MOE. The authors used a dye-transfer approach to show that nonvolatile compounds can be transferred from urine of one mouse with the MOE of another by physical contact. Behavioral studies in male mice indicated that strong preference for same-strain urine persisted even following surgical removal of the vomeronasal organ, suggesting that the MOE pathway is physiologically relevant in this social preference task.
2. Adaptive Plasticity in Visuomotor Maps
Juan Fernandez-Ruiz, Rosalinda Diaz, Pablo Moreno-Briseño, Aurelio Campos-Romo, and Rafael Ojeda
Like primary sensory cortex, areas of the brain that transform visual information into motor commands are topographically organized. Studies using prisms to create optical distortions have shown that the brain can access multiple visuomotor maps. But this week Fernandez-Ruiz et al. show that rather than creating two complete visuomotor maps, for the normal and prism-distorted gaze positions, a single map can be modified regionally to accommodate the visual inconsistency. From a series of experiments, the authors surmised that the visuomotor system tended to generalize adaptations across the entire map. But when inputs from different regions were conflicting, there were rapid local changes in the map.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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