Smell-induced gamma oscillations in human olfactory cortex are required for accurate perception of odor identity

Qiaohan Yang*, Guangyu Zhou*, Torben Noto, Jessica W. Templer, Stephan U. Schuele, Joshua M. Rosenow, Gregory Lane, Christina Zelano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


AU Studies: Pleaseconfirmthatallheadinglevelsarerepresentedcorrectly of neuronal oscillations have contributed substantial : insight into the mechanisms of visual, auditory, and somatosensory perception. However, progress in such research in the human olfactory system has lagged behind. As a result, the electrophysiological properties of the human olfactory system are poorly understood, and, in particular, whether stimulus-driven high-frequency oscillations play a role in odor processing is unknown. Here, we used direct intracranial recordings from human piriform cortex during an odor identification task to show that 3 key oscillatory rhythms are an integral part of the human olfactory cortical response to smell: Odor induces theta, beta, and gamma rhythms in human piriform cortex. We further show that these rhythms have distinct relationships with perceptual behavior. Odor-elicited gamma oscillations occur only during trials in which the odor is accurately perceived, and features of gamma oscillations predict odor identification accuracy, suggesting that they are critical for odor identity perception in humans. We also found that the amplitude of high-frequency oscillations is organized by the phase of low-frequency signals shortly following sniff onset, only when odor is present. Our findings reinforce previous work on theta oscillations, suggest that gamma oscillations in human piriform cortex are important for perception of odor identity, and constitute a robust identification of the characteristic electrophysiological response to smell in the human brain. Future work will determine whether the distinct oscillations we identified reflect distinct perceptual features of odor stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3001509
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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