Precise Olfactory Responses Tile the Sniff Cycle

Nat Neurosci. 2011 Jul 17;14(8):1039-44. doi: 10.1038/nn.2877.

Abstract

In terrestrial vertebrates, sniffing controls odorant access to receptors, and therefore sets the timescale of olfactory stimuli. We found that odorants evoked precisely sniff-locked activity in mitral/tufted cells in the olfactory bulb of awake mouse. The trial-to-trial response jitter averaged 12 ms, a precision comparable to other sensory systems. Individual cells expressed odor-specific temporal patterns of activity and, across the population, onset times tiled the duration of the sniff cycle. Responses were more tightly time-locked to the sniff phase than to the time after inhalation onset. The spikes of single neurons carried sufficient information to discriminate odors. In addition, precise locking to sniff phase may facilitate ensemble coding by making synchrony relationships across neurons robust to variation in sniff rate. The temporal specificity of mitral/tufted cell output provides a potentially rich source of information for downstream olfactory areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Odorants
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology
  • Periodicity*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Respiration
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Wakefulness