Peter C. Brunjes


  • PhD, Indiana University
  • BS, Michigan State University
  • Postdoc, University of Illinois

Primary Appointment

  • Professor, Psychology


Research Interest(s)

Use the olfactory system to examine general problems in the brain maturation, including the role of afferent activity on tissue development and the interplay between evolution and development.

Research Description

Our lab is involved in studying the development of the brain. We always have a number of projects underway, with a focus on understanding the development of the ventral forebrain. Much of our work centers on studies of the development of the olfactory system, as its strict organization makes it easy to use in order to examine the normal rules of growth. Since it is a portion of a sensory system, its function is quite easy to manipulate. The olfactory bulb is the area of the brain that receives input from olfactory sensory neurons in the nasal cavity. We have examined many different aspects of bulb development, including gene expression, protein synthesis, metabolism, neuronal development, the expression of various neurophenotypes, physiological activity, the development of blood vessels, patterns of cell death, etc. The portion below the bulb, the "olfactory peduncle", contains the second order processing station, also known as the "anterior olfactory nucleus". It is a fascinating region that has received very little attention. UNLEASH (Undergraduate Research)

Our lab is involved in probing a number of issues surrounding the organization and development of sensory systems in the brain. Sensory systems are useful models for examining how the brain works: they often have clear cut circuitry, and it is relatively simple to manipulate the amount and type of information processed by the system. Our work centers around the olfactory system, which offers a number of unique features that make it an excellent model for studying the development and organization of the brain. Most of our recent work centers on studying the basic organizational features of the system, including understanding how odors are encoded in the olfactory cortex, and whether these representations change with olfactory experience. When first joining the lab, RAs are usually responsible for participating in one aspect of an ongoing project as they are trained in various laboratory techniques. Once proficient, RAs often have the opportunity of developing more independent projects, many of which have become Distinguished Major projects. Contact: Prof. Brunjes

Selected Publications

  • Brunjes P, Collins L, Osterberg S, Phillips A. The mouse olfactory peduncle. 3. Development of neurons, glia, and centrifugal afferents. Frontiers in neuroanatomy. 2014;8 44. PMID: 24926238 | PMCID: PMC4046489
  • Kay R, Brunjes P. Diversity among principal and GABAergic neurons of the anterior olfactory nucleus. Frontiers in cellular neuroscience. 2014;8 111. PMID: 24808826 | PMCID: PMC4010738
  • The mouse olfactory peduncle. 2.The anterior limb of the anterior commissure. Frontiers in neuroanatomy. 2013;6 51. PMID: 23355812 | PMCID: PMC3555037
  • Brunjes P, Kay R, Arrivillaga J. The mouse olfactory peduncle. The Journal of comparative neurology. 2011;519(14): 2870-86. PMID: 21618219 | PMCID: PMC3342779
  • Kay R, Meyer E, Illig K, Brunjes P. Spatial distribution of neural activity in the anterior olfactory nucleus evoked by odor and electrical stimulation. The Journal of comparative neurology. 2010;519(2): 277-89. PMID: 21165975 | PMCID: PMC3342756
  • Meyer E, Illig K, Brunjes P. Differences in chemo- and cytoarchitectural features within pars principalis of the rat anterior olfactory nucleus suggest functional specialization. The Journal of comparative neurology. 2006;498(6): 786-95. PMID: 16927267 | PMCID: PMC1592518
  • Brunjes P, Illig K, Meyer E. A field guide to the anterior olfactory nucleus (cortex). Brain research. Brain research reviews. 2005;50(2): 305-35. PMID: 16229895
  • Mirich J, Illig K, Brunjes P. Experience-dependent activation of extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) in the olfactory bulb. The Journal of comparative neurology. 2004;479(2): 234-41. PMID: 15452854
  • Couper Leo J, Devine A, Brunjes P. Focal denervation alters cellular phenotypes and survival in the rat olfactory bulb: a developmental analysis. The Journal of comparative neurology. 2000;425(3): 409-21. PMID: 10972941
  • Philpot B, Lim J, Halpain S, Brunjes P. Experience-dependent modifications in MAP2 phosphorylation in rat olfactory bulb. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 1998;17(24): 9596-604. PMID: 9391014
  • Philpot B, Lyders E, Brunjes P. The NMDA receptor participates in respiration-related mitral cell synchrony. Experimental brain research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation cérébrale. 1998;118(2): 205-9. PMID: 9547089
  • Cummings D, Henning H, Brunjes P. Olfactory bulb recovery after early sensory deprivation. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 1997;17(19): 7433-40. PMID: 9295389
  • Philpot B, Foster T, Brunjes P. Mitral/tufted cell activity is attenuated and becomes uncoupled from respiration following naris closure. Journal of neurobiology. 1997;33(4): 374-86. PMID: 9322155
  • Philpot B, Lim J, Brunjes P. Activity-dependent regulation of calcium-binding proteins in the developing rat olfactory bulb. The Journal of comparative neurology. 1997;387(1): 12-26. PMID: 9331168
  • Malun D, Brunjes P. Development of olfactory glomeruli: temporal and spatial interactions between olfactory receptor axons and mitral cells in opossums and rats. The Journal of comparative neurology. 1996;368(1): 1-16. PMID: 8725290