Comparative study of chemical neuroanatomy of the olfactory neuropil in mouse, honey bee, and human

Irina Sinakevitch, George R. Bjorklund, Jason Newbern, Richard Gerkin, Brian Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Despite divergent evolutionary origins, the organization of olfactory systems is remarkably similar across phyla. In both insects and mammals, sensory input from receptor cells is initially processed in synaptically dense regions of neuropil called glomeruli, where neural activity is shaped by local inhibition and centrifugal neuromodulation prior to being sent to higher-order brain areas by projection neurons. Here we review both similarities and several key differences in the neuroanatomy of the olfactory system in honey bees, mice, and humans, using a combination of literature review and new primary data. We have focused on the chemical identity and the innervation patterns of neuromodulatory inputs in the primary olfactory system. Our findings show that serotonergic fibers are similarly distributed across glomeruli in all three species. Octopaminergic/tyraminergic fibers in the honey bee also have a similar distribution, and possibly a similar function, to noradrenergic fibers in the mammalian OBs. However, preliminary evidence suggests that human OB may be relatively less organized than its counterparts in honey bee and mouse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-140
Number of pages14
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Antennal lobe
  • Honey bee
  • Human olfaction
  • Noradrenaline
  • Octopamine
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • General Computer Science


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