Olfactory experience decreases responsiveness of the olfactory bulb in the adult rat

Neuroscience. 2000;95(2):325-32. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(99)00450-9.


We recently reported the existence of dramatic modifications of the olfactory bulb reactivity following a very simple manipulation of the olfactory input as an exposure to an odorant. The present study aimed at testing the possibility that such effects could depend on the nature of the exposure odour. For this purpose, rats were exposed 20 min per day during six consecutive days to cineole, methyl-amyl ketone, isoamyl acetate or with no odour in the control group. On day 7, rats were anaesthetized and the spontaneous activity of mitral/tufted cells was recorded along with their responses to the familiar odour and to four novel odours. Results revealed that: (i) the firing frequencies were not significantly different in the four groups; (ii) the proportion of excitatory responses was considerably decreased in the exposed groups while the number of non-responses was significantly enhanced; (iii) excitatory responses were decreased not only to the familiar odour but also to four other novel odours; (iv) this lower responsiveness was long lasting at least for isoamyl acetate exposure; and (v) increasing concentration of test odours was not enough to allow mitral/tufted cells to recover control responsiveness. All of these effects have a differential importance according to the exposure odour. In particular, the more powerful an odour is in activating control cells, the more non-specific the decrease in mitral/tufted cell reactivity is. Hypotheses on the underlying mechanisms are advanced.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Cyclohexanols*
  • Eucalyptol
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology
  • Ketones
  • Male
  • Menthol / analogs & derivatives
  • Monoterpenes*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Odorants
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Pentanols
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Terpenes*
  • Time Factors


  • Cyclohexanols
  • Ketones
  • Monoterpenes
  • Pentanols
  • Terpenes
  • Menthol
  • 2-heptanone
  • Eucalyptol
  • isoamyl acetate