Department of Physiology & Biophysics, Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
This image shows a zebrafish's pair of olfactory bulbs, which are located at the front of the brain and receive information from sensory cells in the nostrils. Braubach explained the image in more detail to DISCOVER: "The white elements in the picture are the axons from the olfactory sensory cells and they carry information about different molecular components of odors. The red parts are the synaptic terminals that are located inside of these axons and these terminals are the cellular sites at which neural information (i.e., action potentials or electric signals) are converted into a chemical signal which then moves over to another neuron and activates it."
Braubach created this image while working on network maps of the vertebrate olfactory system. He's fascinated by the sophistication of this system. When we smell something (he uses a BLT sandwich as a mouthwatering example), the components of the smell are processed by distinct sets of sensory neurons, and the signal is sent on to specific, dedicated parts of the olfactory bulb. Braubach is studying "how this system accomplishes such coding, and also how it develops," he says. "Considering how many
thousands of smells surround us and how many of these we are able to discriminate, the olfactory system is truly a remarkable processing system."
Braubach says he considers himself more of an observer and curator of the natural world's wonders than an artist. But he also takes some lovely photographs
in his spare time.