Intrinsic and Extrinsic Neuromodulation of Olfactory Processing

Front Cell Neurosci. 2018 Jan 9;11:424. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2017.00424. eCollection 2017.


Neuromodulation is a ubiquitous feature of neural systems, allowing flexible, context specific control over network dynamics. Neuromodulation was first described in invertebrate motor systems and early work established a basic dichotomy for neuromodulation as having either an intrinsic origin (i.e., neurons that participate in network coding) or an extrinsic origin (i.e., neurons from independent networks). In this conceptual dichotomy, intrinsic sources of neuromodulation provide a "memory" by adjusting network dynamics based upon previous and ongoing activation of the network itself, while extrinsic neuromodulators provide the context of ongoing activity of other neural networks. Although this dichotomy has been thoroughly considered in motor systems, it has received far less attention in sensory systems. In this review, we discuss intrinsic and extrinsic modulation in the context of olfactory processing in invertebrate and vertebrate model systems. We begin by discussing presynaptic modulation of olfactory sensory neurons by local interneurons (LNs) as a mechanism for gain control based on ongoing network activation. We then discuss the cell-class specific effects of serotonergic centrifugal neurons on olfactory processing. Finally, we briefly discuss the integration of intrinsic and extrinsic neuromodulation (metamodulation) as an effective mechanism for exerting global control over olfactory network dynamics. The heterogeneous nature of neuromodulation is a recurring theme throughout this review as the effects of both intrinsic and extrinsic modulation are generally non-uniform.

Keywords: GABA; neuromodulation; olfaction; presynaptic gain control; sensory processing; serotonin.

Publication types

  • Review