An interesting article published by Nizampatnam and others in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America dated January 11th 2022 researched this. 

The smell of coffee is the same whether it is smelled in a coffee shop or grocery shop, for example:

  • Different backgrounds, on a hot day or cold day
  • Different ambient conditions, after lunch or dinner
  • Different temporal context, using a deep inhalation or normal inhalation
  • Different stimulus dynamics

This feat of pattern recognition is still difficult to achieve in artificial chemical sensing systems as performed by most sensory symptoms for their survival. 

How is this capability achieved? 

The authors researched this issue and found that there are two orthogonal ensembles of neurons:

  • One activated during stimulus presence, the so called on neurons.
  • One activated after its termination, the so called off neurons and both contributed to the important computation in a complimentary fashion.

Dr Paul Ettlinger

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