Virtual Middlebury

Open to the Public

Presentation by Pamela Pyzza, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Kenyon College. Olfaction, or the sense of smell, is arguably the most primitive sense, and thus the mechanisms by which odors are detected and identified are shared across many animals, from insects to mammals. We formulate a mathematical model to describe these mechanisms by considering the structure and behavior of individual neurons, then we analyze the activity generated by a network of these neurons. Results from numerical simulations of this network, along with a simplified mean-field analysis utilizing phase-plane techniques, present a biologically plausible picture of the two main mechanisms that characterize insect olfaction.

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Nuceder, Jennifer