The nuts and bolts of scent detection
Edwards, T. L. (2015). The nuts and bolts of scent detection. Presented at the 41st Association for Behavior Analysis International Annual Convention (ABAI), May 22-26, 2015, Henry B. Gonzalez convention Center, San Antonio, TX.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9828
In this tutorial, the basic requirements and ideal conditions for successfully training, evaluating, and deploying animals for scent-detection tasks will be outlined. Fundamental chemical and environmental factors that influence scent detection will be described, as will some factors to consider when selecting species and strains for this work. Because operational scent detection often involves detection of a variety of odor combinations, training requirements are similar to those for concept formation, which has important implications for selection of training samples. These and other considerations related to sample presentation will be discussed. Common training methods for both “discrete-trial” and “free-operant” scent-discrimination tasks will be presented and critical components of training highlighted. Evaluation of the scent-detection accuracy of animal detectors is a critical step prior to and during operational deployment. Some key features of precise estimation of performance will be discussed followed by a description of some operational deployment scenarios and features that are more and less conducive to success. Finally, common challenges associated with scent-detection work and some methods of overcoming the challenges will be presented for discussion.