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Learning from social scents: from territory to identity

Objective

Olfaction is a central sensory modality in most Mammals as it supports vital functions such as feeding, mating and social interactions. Social chemosignals (olfactory cues from urine or body secretions) are efficient communication cues carrying important information such as territory ownership, resources’ locations and identity. Remembering such information is a key advantage for individuals allowing them to adapt their behaviors based on prior experience. However, how social chemosignals are processed and stored in the brain for future recall is still unclear.

This project aims at identifying the brain-wide mechanisms underlying the contribution of social chemosignals to spatial and social memory in the mouse. The hippocampus is a key brain region for these two fundamental memory functions and it shares direct anatomical connections with the olfactory system that processes social odors. Using advanced computational methods and cutting-edge technologies that enable recording and manipulating large neuronal ensembles in freely moving mice, we will:

- shed light on the mechanisms of spatial memory consolidation: we hypothesize that a dialog between the olfactory cortex and the hippocampus during sleep underlies the memory of an environment marked by social scents.
- track the brain substrates of individuals’ identity in mice and their dependence on olfactory inputs: we hypothesize that during social learning, the response of neuronal circuits (1) reflects the unique olfactory signature of the encountered individual, and that (2) it changes as this individual becomes familiar.
- test whether a coordination between olfactory and memory networks is essential to the formation of social recognition memory.

Overall, this project will provide important insights on the network mechanisms of memory function and will contribute to our understanding of social behaviors.
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Host institution

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

Address

Rue Michel Ange 3
75794 Paris

France

Activity type

Research Organisations

EU Contribution

€ 1 498 875

Beneficiaries (1)

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CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

France

EU Contribution

€ 1 498 875

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 851560

Status

Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 April 2020

  • End date

    31 March 2025

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 498 875

  • EU contribution

    € 1 498 875

Hosted by:

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

France