The acquisition of olfactory information and its early processing in mammals are modulated by brain states through sniffing behavior and neural feedback. We imaged the spatiotemporal pattern of odor-evoked activity in a population of output neurons (mitral/tufted cells, MTCs) in the olfactory bulb (OB) of head-restrained mice expressing a genetically-encoded calcium indicator. The temporal dynamics of MTC population activity were relatively simple in anesthetized animals, but were highly variable in awake animals. However, the apparently irregular activity in awake animals could be predicted well using sniff timing measured externally, or inferred through fluctuations in the global responses of MTC population even without explicit knowledge of sniff times. The overall spatial pattern of activity was conserved across states, but odor responses had a diffuse spatial component in anesthetized mice that was less prominent during wakefulness. Multi-photon microscopy indicated that MTC lateral dendrites were the likely source of spatially disperse responses in the anesthetized animal. Our data demonstrate that the temporal and spatial dynamics of MTCs can be significantly modulated by behavioral state, and that the ensemble activity of MTCs can provide information about sniff timing to downstream circuits to help decode odor responses.
Keywords: anesthesia; awake mouse; calcium imaging; inhibition; sniff dynamics.