Perception Neuroscience – Johan Lundström's research group

The Perception Neuroscience group conducts basic research aimed toward a better understanding of the neural and behavioral function of the olfactory system, and how it interacts with the other senses to interpret our environment in health and disease.

Photo: Erik Flyg

Studying the sense of smell and its significance to health

Psychological smell research

Non-invasive olfactory bulb measure

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Research focus

Cognition in olfaction

Olfaction is to a large degree studied from the sensory processing perspective. Here we instead study the behavioral and neural implications of olfactory cognition. Using neural imaging and behavioral studies we will establish the limits of human olfactory cognition and the underlying neural mechanisms. How do we keep olfactory percepts temporarily in mind, and are we able reshape these percepts to aid behavior? Do we have similar attentional and top-down processing abilities in olfaction as in other sensory modalities? Are analogous brain areas involved in the cognitive processing of olfactory stimuli as in the more investigated visual cognition?


Early detection of parkinson’s disease

The olfactory bulb is where Parkinson’s Disease starts in the brain. Based on our new method to measure signal from the olfactory bulb, we are currently assessing whether the measure can be used as an early detector of Parkinson’s Disease onset. If successful, this would mean that we most probably can detect Parkinson’s Disease many years before the onset of the characteristic motor symptoms that is so characteristic for the disease. We are also currently exploring whether we can reverse the measure to stimulate the olfactory bulb and potentially slow the spread of the disease.


Human olfactory bulb processing

We recently demonstrated a new method to measure signals from the human olfactory bulb, an area of the human brain that that was not accessible without resorting to intracranial recordings. We are in this project, under the leadership of Dr. Johan Lundström, assessing what role the olfactory bulb has in human odor perception and action. Moreover, we are also assessing whether this measure might serve as an early indicator of Parkinson’s disease.


Links between breathing and performance

Respiration is one of the fundamental rhythms of life, with its effects stretching far beyond basic oxygenation. Recent studies have demonstrated that breathing modulates how we process basic perceptual stimuli and tentative evidence also indicate that breathing might regulate cognitive processes. In this project under the leadership of Dr. Artin Arshamian, we are assessing how this rhythmic activity, repeated 9-24 times each minute, shapes basic perception and cognition and what neural mechanisms allow this integration between breathing and perception/cognition.


Multisensory integration with odors

Outside the confined environment of the laboratory, smells are very rarely experienced by themselves, without the contextual information provided by our other senses. This project, under the leadership of Dr. Johan Lundström, is concerned with two fundamental perceptual neuroscience question: how is congruent information from our other sensory modalities influencing the processing of odors and what role does the olfactory cortex, if any, have in this?


Olfactory plasticity

The sense of smell is a sensory system that is characterized by both large inter- as well as intra- individual differences. The sense of smell is also very plastic where sensitivity towards individual odors can shift either rapidly or over time. Under the leadership of Dr. Lundström, the general aim of this project is to understand what the neural mechanisms, and their behavioral consequences, are that allow the sense of smell to adapt so fast to our environment. In doing this, we assess behavioral and neural measures in both healthy individuals as well as clinical populations with various etiology.


Working memory and generalization

In this project we study the primate ability to generalize. Working memory refers to our ability to temporarily hold a limited set of information in a particular online state that allows us to access and manipulate this information. Importantly, these abilities generalize to any information and not just information we previously trained to perform such manipulations on. We test the novel theory that these abilities, along with many other aspects of generalization, builds on utilizing the spatial structure of cortex. To test this we study spatiotemporal dynamics of brain activity, including brain oscillations and travelling waves. We also perform network simulations where we explore the computational power of this theory.


Selected publications

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Staff and contact

Group leader

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Visiting address

Karolinska Institute, Clinical Neuroscience / Division of Psychology, Nobels väg 9, Stockholm, 17177, Sweden

Postal address

Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Neuroscience/Division of Psychology, Nobels väg 9, Stockholm, 17177, Sverige


Grigorios Iakovidis, Research engineer

Arnika Pehl, Master’s student

Jonatan Nordmark, Postdoc

Anna-Laura Toth, Research assistant

Moa Peter, PhD student

Johannes Frasnelli, Guest professor

Laura Dukek, Master’s student

Marie Michaels, Master’s student

Behzad Iravani, PhD student

Putu Agus Khorisantono, Postdoc

Andri Savva, PhD Student

Janina Seubert, Senior Researcher

Kathi Prenner, Master’s Student

Andreas Westerdahl, Lab manager

Danja Porada, PhD student

Robin Fondberg, PhD student

Amy Gordon, PhD student

Cécilia Tremblay, PhD student

Milena Di Chira, Master’s Student

Christina Rossi, Master’s Student

Georgia Sarolidou, PhD student

Caitlin Hrysanidis, Master’s Student

Ida Siemens Lorenzen, Master’s Student

Daphnée Poupon, Master’s Student

Alessandro Davoli, Bachelor’s Student

Riccardo Bertaccini, Bachelor’s Student

Christina Schmitter, Bachelor’s Student

Alberto Frigieri, Bachelor’s Student

Barbara Feytl, Master’s Student

Harald Melin, Research assistant

Emilia Johansson, Research engineer

Belinda Miggitsch, Master’s Student

Mirella Engelhardt, Master’s Student

Sissie Carlsen, Master’s Student

Sidney Lind, Internship Student

Anna Belska, Visiting Student

Saskia Borg, Visiting Student


Anosmia Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms Electroencephalography Functional Neuroimaging Magnetic Resonance Imaging Memory, Short-Term Neurosciences Odorants Olfactory Bulb Olfactory Perception Olfactory Training Perception Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology) Sensory Deprivation Show all
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