Cellular correlates of olfactory learning in the rat piriform cortex

Rev Neurosci. 2001;12(2):111-20. doi: 10.1515/revneuro.2001.12.2.111.


This review describes research that combines cellular physiology with behavioral neuroscience, to study the cellular mechanisms underlying learning and memory in the mammalian brain. Rats were trained with an olfactory conditioning paradigm, in which they had to memorize odors in order to be rewarded with drinking water. Such training results in rule learning, which enables enhanced acquisition of odor memory. Training results in the following learning-related physiological modifications in intrinsic and synaptic properties in olfactory (piriform) cortex pyramidal neurons: 1. increased neuronal excitability, indicated by reduced afterhyperpolarization, and 2. increased synaptic transmission, indicated by reduced paired-pulse facilitation. These modifications are correlated to enhanced learning capability rather than to storage of memory for specific odors. In addition, using a different paradigm of odor-training, it is shown that NMDA and betra-adrenergic receptors are involved at different stages of long-term memory consolidation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Olfactory Pathways / cytology
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology