Olfactory inputs modulate respiration-related rhythmic activity in the prefrontal cortex and freezing behavior

Nat Commun. 2018 Apr 18;9(1):1528. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03988-1.


Respiration and airflow through the nasal cavity are known to be correlated with rhythmic neural activity in the central nervous system. Here we show in rodents that during conditioned fear-induced freezing behavior, mice breathe at a steady rate (~4 Hz), which is correlated with a predominant 4-Hz oscillation in the prelimbic prefrontal cortex (plPFC), a structure critical for expression of conditioned fear behaviors. We demonstrate anatomical and functional connections between the olfactory pathway and plPFC via circuit tracing and optogenetics. Disruption of olfactory inputs significantly reduces the 4-Hz oscillation in the plPFC, but leads to prolonged freezing periods. Our results indicate that olfactory inputs can modulate rhythmic activity in plPFC and freezing behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Limbic System / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Olfactory Pathways
  • Optogenetics
  • Periodicity
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Respiration*
  • Smell / physiology*