Most mammals rely on semiochemicals, such as pheromones, to mediate their social interactions. Recent studies found that semiochemicals are perceived by at least two distinct chemosensory systems: the main and accessory olfactory systems, which share many molecular, cellular, and anatomical features. Nevertheless, the division of labor between these systems remained unclear. Previously we suggested that the two olfactory systems differ in the way they process sensory information. In this study we found that mitral cells of the main and accessory olfactory bulbs, the first brain stations of both systems, display markedly different passive and active intrinsic properties which permit distinct types of information processing. Moreover, we found that accessory olfactory bulb mitral cells are divided into three neuronal sub-populations with distinct firing properties. These neuronal sub-populations can be integrated in a simulated neuronal network that neglects episodic stimuli while amplifying reaction to long-lasting signals.
Copyright © 2011 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.