Scientific article

fMRI-based Neuronal Response to New Odorants in the Newborn Brain

Published inCerebral Cortex
Publication date2017

The sense of smell is one of the oldest and the most primitive senses mammals possess, it helps to evaluate the surrounding environment. From birth, smell is an important sensory modality, highly relevant for neonatal behavioral adaptation. Even though human newborns seem to be able to perceive and react to olfactory stimuli, there is still a lack of knowledge about the ontogeny of smell and the underlying central processing involved in odor perception in newborns. Brain networks involved in chemosensory perception of odorants are well described in adults, however in newborns there is no evidence that central olfaction is functional given the largely unmyelinated neonatal central nervous system. To examine this question, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in the newborn to characterize cortical response to olfactory and trigeminal odorants. Here we show that brain response to odors can be measured and localized using functional MRI in newborns. Furthermore, we found that the developing brain, only few days after birth, processes new artificial odorants in similar cortical areas than adults, including piriform cortex, orbitofrontal cortex and insula. Our work provides evidence that human olfaction at birth relies on brain functions that involve all levels of the cortical olfactory system.

Citation (ISO format)
ADAM-DARQUE, Alexandra et al. fMRI-based Neuronal Response to New Odorants in the Newborn Brain. In: Cerebral Cortex, 2017. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhx167
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1047-3211

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