Both electrical and chemical synapses mediate fast network oscillations in the olfactory bulb

J Neurophysiol. 2003 May;89(5):2601-10. doi: 10.1152/jn.00887.2002.


Odor perception depends on a constellation of molecular, cellular, and network interactions in olfactory brain areas. Recently, there has been better understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the odor responses of neurons in the olfactory epithelium, the first-order olfactory area. In higher order sensory areas, synchronized activity in networks of neurons is known to be a prominent feature of odor processing. The perception and discrimination of odorants is associated with fast (20-70 Hz) electroencephalographic oscillations. The cellular mechanisms underlying these fast network oscillations have not been defined. In this study, we show that synchronous fast oscillations can be evoked by brief electrical stimulation in the rat olfactory bulb in vitro, partially mimicking the natural response of this brain region to sensory input. Stimulation induces periodic inhibitory synaptic potentials in mitral cells and prolonged spiking in GABAergic granule cells. Repeated stimulation leads to the persistent enhancement in both granule cell activity and mitral cell inhibition. Prominent oscillations in field recordings indicate that stimulation induces high-frequency activity throughout networks of olfactory bulb neurons. Network synchronization results from chemical and electrical synaptic interactions since both glutamate-receptor antagonists and gap junction inhibitors block oscillatory intracellular and field responses. Our results demonstrate that the olfactory bulb can generate fast oscillations autonomously through the persistent activation of networks of inhibitory interneurons. These local circuit interactions may be critically involved in odor processing in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Gap Junctions / drug effects
  • Gap Junctions / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / drug effects
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology


  • Tetrodotoxin