Topological reorganization of odor representations in the olfactory bulb

PLoS Biol. 2007 Jul;5(7):e178. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050178. Epub 2007 Jul 3.


Odors are initially represented in the olfactory bulb (OB) by patterns of sensory input across the array of glomeruli. Although activated glomeruli are often widely distributed, glomeruli responding to stimuli sharing molecular features tend to be loosely clustered and thus establish a fractured chemotopic map. Neuronal circuits in the OB transform glomerular patterns of sensory input into spatiotemporal patterns of output activity and thereby extract information about a stimulus. It is, however, unknown whether the chemotopic spatial organization of glomerular inputs is maintained during these computations. To explore this issue, we measured spatiotemporal patterns of odor-evoked activity across thousands of individual neurons in the zebrafish OB by temporally deconvolved two-photon Ca(2+) imaging. Mitral cells and interneurons were distinguished by transgenic markers and exhibited different response selectivities. Shortly after response onset, activity patterns exhibited foci of activity associated with certain chemical features throughout all layers. During the subsequent few hundred milliseconds, however, MC activity was locally sparsened within the initial foci in an odor-specific manner. As a consequence, chemotopic maps disappeared and activity patterns became more informative about precise odor identity. Hence, chemotopic maps of glomerular input activity are initially transmitted to OB outputs, but not maintained during pattern processing. Nevertheless, transient chemotopic maps may support neuronal computations by establishing important synaptic interactions within the circuit. These results provide insights into the functional topology of neural activity patterns and its potential role in circuit function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Odorants
  • Olfactory Bulb / anatomy & histology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Zebrafish / anatomy & histology*
  • Zebrafish / genetics
  • Zebrafish / physiology*


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • yellow cameleon 2.1