Habituation is a simple form of memory, yet its neurobiological mechanisms are only beginning to be understood in mammals. In the olfactory system, the neural correlates of habituation at a fast experimental timescale involving very short intertrial intervals (tens of seconds) have been shown to depend on synaptic adaptation in olfactory cortex. In contrast, behavioral habituation to odorants on a longer timescale with intertrial intervals of several minutes depends on processes in the olfactory bulb, as demonstrated by pharmacological studies. We here show that behavioral habituation to odorants on this longer timescale has a neuronal activity correlate in the olfactory bulb. Spiking responses of mitral cells in the rat olfactory bulb adapt to, and recover from, repeated odorant stimulation with 5-min intertrial intervals with a time course similar to that of behavioral habituation. Moreover, both the behavioral and neuronal effects of odor habituation require functioning N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptors in the olfactory bulb.
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