We are neurophysiologists that are fascinated by the function of sensory systems, especially the sense of smell. The mammalian olfactory system detects an almost unlimited number of molecular stimuli and initiates a process of neural recognition that influences nearly every aspect of life. The sense of smell helps to identify food, to assay its quality, and to enhance its flavor. The activation of nasal chemosensory neurons warns of potential toxins or pathogens and thus recognizes health status. The olfactory system even detects information about social and reproductive status, sex, genetic identity, and features of immunity. In all these cases, activation of specific neurons and neuronal circuits initiates a process of neural recognition that can influence behaviors, hormonal state, and mood. We ask how the olfactory system accomplishes these diverse tasks. We use an integrative, multidisciplinary approach that includes state-of-the art genetics and molecular biology, optical and electrophysiologcal recording at the cellular and systems level, and behavioral analysis. More recently, we have begun to link our work in mice with human gene defects causing disease.

Molecular Medicine of Sensory Systems - F. Zufall