Olfactory neurons are constantly adapting to their environment.

It is this signal that is translated into smell. But in fact, a stimulus causes much deeper changes in neurons, as a research team at the University of Geneva in Switzerland has just discovered while studying their activity in mice!

“We thought that the binding of an odorous molecule only leads to the activation of the corresponding receptor,” explains geneticist Ivan Rodriguez, one of the authors of the study.

But we found that olfactory neurons actually change their identity dramatically, modulating the expression of hundreds of genes.” Most of these genes play a role in signal transmission: they allow the neuron to adapt to the intensity of stimulation, for example, by reducing the strength of the perception of smell in the event of prolonged exposure. Not even thirty minutes have passed after exposure to an olfactory stimulus, as they are activated or, conversely, fade away.

“An adaptation mechanism that struck us with its unexpected, massive, fast and completely reversible side,” the biologist concludes.

Also learn: How do neurons make our brain work? We would be nothing without our neurons, but do we really know them? This is how they make up in the very substance of our brain a network constantly permeated with nerve impulses, which we use … for everything!

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