Odor-Guided Navigation Strategies in Mice
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Our sensory systems allow us to navigate dynamic environments. For example, the olfactory system plays a key role in foraging behavior, such as the localization of an odor source. We will study sensory navigation in the sensitive olfactory system of the mouse. The primary navigation strategies observed in mice include bilateral nostril comparisons at a single sniff (stereo olfaction), and bilateral comparisons across multiple sniffs (serial sampling). While these sampling strategies have been observed, the overall sampling behaviors used by mice to locate an odor source is largely unknown. Our lab has developed a behavioral assay for studying freely moving odor-guided navigation in mice. In this system, mice receive a reward for correctly navigating towards an odor released from one of two odor ports. The aim of this study is to define the navigation strategies used by mice to locate an odor, and determine if this sampling strategy generalizes across multiple odorant identities. We hypothesize that a mouse’s sniff rate and body movements will slow when introduced to a novel odorant, and that there will be increased serial sampling. Identifying and analyzing these sampling behaviors will create the foundation needed to discover the physiological mechanisms underlying these behaviors. In future studies, we will record from the olfactory bulb to access the neural representation during odor-guided navigation.