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Matt Wachowiak, PhD
Seeing What the Nose Tells the Brain: Imaging the Sense of Smell
Associate Professor, University of Utah School of Medicine and The Brain Institute of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
2 Riverside Circle, Roanoke, VA 24016
A public reception will precede this event in the VTC Cafe at 4:00 p.m.
A shuttle will depart from Burruss Hall in Blacksburg at 4:00 p.m. and return at 6:15 p.m.
How does the brain identify smells? Understanding the olfactory sense is difficult because animals must detect and identify a huge number of smells and because the olfactory environment varies tremendously over time and space. Matt Wachowiak, PhD, studies how the nervous system encodes odor information and how the brain processes that information. His focus is on understanding how patterns of neural activity encode odor information, how this code changes as a result of neural processing in the brain, and how animals actively control olfactory sensation during behavior. Using optical imaging of the activation of networks of individual living nerve cells as an animal smells an odor, Dr. Wachowiak’s laboratory relates patterns of neural activity to behavioral strategies for sampling odors, such as sniffing; higher-level brain states, such as attention; and measures of odor perception. These combined experimental approaches are yielding new insights into how olfactory sensation works in the alert animal during the performance of natural behaviors.
About the Speaker:
Matt Wachowiak, PhD, received his BS in zoology and neuroscience from Duke University in 1990, and his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Florida in 1996. He joined the faculty of the Department of Biology at Boston University in 2002 and became an associate professor in 2008. In 2010, he joined The Brain Institute at the University of Utah, where he is now a Utah Science, Technology, and Research Initiative Professor of Physiology, Brain and Behavior. Dr. Wachowiak’s work focuses on odor coding and processing in rodents, with an emphasis on understanding how olfaction works in the behaving animal.