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Rodent olfaction and the chemistry of instinct

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DejaVu
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« on: June 30, 2011, 09:21:10 pm »

Rodent olfaction and the chemistry of instinct
Published on June 29, 2011

The mechanics of instinctive behavior are mysterious. Even something as simple as the question of how a mouse can use its powerful sense of smell to detect and evade predators, including species it has never met before, has been almost totally unknown at the molecular level until now.

David Ferrero and Stephen Liberles, neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School, have discovered a single compound found in high concentrations in the urine of carnivores that triggers an instinctual avoidance response in mice and rats. This is the first time that scientists have identified a chemical tag that would let rodents sense carnivores in general from a safe distance. The authors write that understanding the molecular basis of predator odor recognition by rodents will provide crucial tools to study the neural circuitry associated with innate behavior.

Their findings were published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on June 20, 2011.

Continued: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20110629/Rodent-olfaction-and-the-chemistry-of-instinct.aspx

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