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Frontiers in Olfaction (8592)

July 24, 2017 – July 28, 2017


Abdus Salam ICTP, Trieste, Italy


Massimo Vergassola, UCSD

Antonio Celani, ICTP

Anna Menini, SISSA

Venkatesh Murthy, Harvard University



Olfaction is the final frontier of our senses - the one that is still largely mysterious to us. Despite extensive genetic and perceptual data, and a strong push to solve the neural coding problem, fundamental questions about the sense of smell remain unresolved. Unlike vision and hearing, where relatively straightforward relationships between stimulus features and neural responses have been foundational to our understanding of sensory processing, it has been difficult to quantify the properties of odorant molecules that lead to olfactory percepts. In a sense, we do not have olfactory analogs of “red”, “green” and “blue”. In this workshop we will bring together scientists from diverse areas of research in an attempt to uncover the organizing principles behind olfaction. Driven by novel experimental techniques, including next-generation sequencing, optogenetics, and imaging/recordings in awake behaving animals, experimental data are undergoing an explosive growth. At the same time, a variety of computational and theoretical models have been proposed to explain the data. We believe that the community is in need of careful collective evaluation and comprehension of the current state of the field. The olfactory field has maintained the tradition of valuing biophysical approaches and featuring fruitful collaborative interactions between scientists carrying out theoretical, experimental, and computational research.

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