myIIT Portal

    Greater Lakes

    Winter 2013

    Richard Harth

    [ Send this article to a friend ]

    go to page: [ 1 | 2 ]

    Photo: Michael Goss

    A faint whiff of an odor first experienced in childhood may conjure a host of vivid recollections. Olfactory memory is common to many animals, including fish, where it helps guide navigation, predator avoidance, food acquisition, and reproduction. Chunbo Zhang, IIT research assistant professor, studies the subtleties of olfactory perception, investigating the neural and hormonal mechanisms involved and their roles in species survival.

    Zhang’s current research, supported by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, focuses on olfactory memory formed during development of lake sturgeon in the Great Lakes. The future of the largest fish in the Great Lakes—prized for both their meat and eggs—is imperiled, as overfishing, pollution, and habitat loss affect their lifecycle and long-term population levels. Zhang believes an additional factor may be undermining efforts to restore self-sustaining populations of lake sturgeon to the Great Lakes—inadequate imprinting. “Olfactory imprinting is a complex and fascinating phenomenon. There are enormous questions about the underlying mechanisms involved,” she says.

    Species imprinting, which may involve any of the five senses, usually occurs during early development. Re-exposure to the sensory stimulus can provoke particular behavioral responses essential for survival. In fish, olfactory imprinting leaves an indelible trace in the nervous system, retained throughout the fish’s lifespan.

    go to page: [ 1 | 2 ]

    © Illinois Institute of Technology   3300 South Federal Street, Chicago, IL 60616-3793 || 312.567.3000
    Undergraduate Admission Tel 312.567.3025 || Toll Free 800.448.2329 || Graduate Admission Tel 312.567.3020 || Toll Free 866.472.3448 || Emergency Information || Site Index