Biologists at the University of California, Riverside have discovered surprisingly that the complex odor-detecting machinery of the fruit fly Drosophila is heavily influenced by one specific odor receptor. This same receptor also exists in crop-damaging fly species and disease-carrying mosquitoes, opening the possibility for new chemical cocktails to control pests and render people "invisible" to mosquitoes.
Right at the tip of the fruit fly's tongue sit two sets of taste neurons that have now been found to be crucial for the insect to develop a craving for protein.
Like us, fish need oxygen, and swimming through a patch of carbon dioxide turns out not to be a pleasant experience. Instead, they prefer to avoid carbon dioxide altogether. In experiments published in Cell Reports on Jan. 30, researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have discovered a neuronal pathway that makes this behavior possible.
Most of us surely don't think of mosquitoes as being especially adept at learning. But researchers reporting in Current Biology on Jan. 25 now show that mosquitoes can in fact learn to associate a particular odor with an unpleasant mechanical shock akin to being swatted. As a result, they'll avoid that scent the next time.
When it comes to naming colors, most people do so with ease. But, for odors, it's much harder to find the words. One notable exception to this rule is found among the Jahai people, hunter-gatherers living in the Malay Peninsula. For them, odors are just as easy to name as colors. Now a new study reported in Current Biology suggests that the Jahai's special way with smell is related to their hunting and gathering lifestyle.
In a feat of nanoengineering, scientists have developed a new technique to map electrical circuits in the brain far more comprehensively than ever before. Scientists worldwide could use the technique to uncover the architecture of different parts of the brain.
Until now, many scientists believed that a single protein -- TRPM5 -- acted as a gatekeeper for tasting sweet, bitter and savory foods. Remove TRPM5 from a person's taste cells, and they would no longer be able to identify sweet, bitter or savory (also called umami) foods. A new study challenges this thinking.
The scent of a romantic partner can help lower stress levels, new psychology research from the University of British Columbia has found. Women feel calmer after being exposed to their male partner's scent, but being exposed to a stranger's scent had the opposite effect and raised levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Research from the Monell Center documented wide individual differences to the taste of the life-saving HIV medication Kaletra and identified genetic sources of the taste variation. The findings suggest that the growing field of pharmacogenetics should assess the sensory response to medicines to promote medication compliance and treatment success.
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology and the Monell Chemical Senses Center in the US have found a key protein (Skn-1a) acts as a master regulator for the generation of chemosensory cells in mice. As these cells are known to detect bitter or toxic substances, the study provides insights into the body's innate defense mechanisms and could lead to the development of new drugs in future.