Chemosensory laboratory

Department of psychology

Chemosensory laboratory

– Research laboratory
Employees sitting next to a microscope. Photo.
Photo: Elin Iversen/NTNU

Studying basic mechanisms of olfaction

Lessons we can learn from the small insect brain

All creatures, from single-cell organisms to humans, are able to detect chemical signals from their environments. Odor-evoked behaviours are therefore manifested in a variety of ways, from simple bacterial chemotaxis to the emotional human reaction to a particular scent. Nevertheless, the primary function of the olfactory system is to encode and interpret the input in order to provide the organism with vital information.

In order to understand the basic encoding underlying odor perception we perform studies on a functional neural network ideally suited for experimental research, namely the central olfactory pathways of a noctuid moth. Along with other insects, moths have served as favourite models not only for researchers devoted to the field of chemo-sensation but for neuroscientists in general. The comparative perspective has demonstrated several well-conserved principles across distinct phyla, particularly regarding olfaction.

Helicoverpa armigera is one of the most serious insect pests worldwide. Due to its polyphagy and high reproductive potential, there is a substantial economic loss on agricultural products including several vegetables. 

In our research we utilize different experimental methods including mass staining, immunohistochemistry, intracellular recording/staining, confocal microscopy/modelling, and calcium imaging. In addition to exploring the olfactory system, we also study how cross‑modal input from sound and odor is integrated at various levels of the central nervous system.


New publications from the Research group


Funding from Norwegian Research Council, NFR:

  1. Plant - insect relationships: imaging CO2, pheromones, and plant odors in the olfactory pathway of an herbivorous insect
  2. Chemosensory pathways underlying oviposition behavior in the pest insect, Helicoverpa armigera – peripheral and central mechanisms

Other ongoing projects in the Chemosensory lab

Lab members

Lab members

National and international collaborators:

National and international collaborators:

  • Dr. Stanley Heinze, Lund University, Sweeden
  • Professor Guirong Wang, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing, China
  • Professor Xincheng Zhao, Department of Entomology, College of Plant Protection, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou, China
  • Professor Giovanni Galizia, University of Konstanz, Germany
  • Associate Professor Pål Kvello, Department of teacher education, NTNU
  • Researcher Atle Wibe, Norsk senter for økologisk landbruk, NORSØK