Smelling in Stereo

You can hear in stereo because the sensory input from each ear is processed individually and combined to create a mental picture of direction. But could you smell in stereo? That was the question asked about the eastern American mole.
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Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms2444
http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n2/full/ncomms2444.html

Stereo and serial sniffing guide navigation to an odour source in a mammal

Integration of bilateral sensory information is fundamental to stimulus localization in auditory systems and depth perception in vision, but the role of stereo olfactory cues remains obscure. Here it is shown that blind, eastern American moles combine serial sampling with bilateral nasal cues to localize odorants. Blocking one nostril causes moles to err in the direction of the open nostril with strongest effect within 4–5 cm of the stimulus. Nostril block does not severely disrupt more distant navigation towards odorants in a T-maze nor prevent animals from ultimately locating the odour source. Crossing inputs to the nostrils using plastic tubes causes a local repulsion from the stimulus, whereas uncrossed tubes do not disrupt localization. These findings show that mammals can make use of bilateral chemosensory cues combined with serial sampling to localize odorants and offer insights into the relative contribution of each strategy during different stages of natural search behaviours.

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