Olfactory bulb acetylcholine release dishabituates odor responses and reinstates odor investigation

Nat Commun. 2018 May 14;9(1):1868. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04371-w.


Habituation and dishabituation modulate the neural resources and behavioral significance allocated to incoming stimuli across the sensory systems. We characterize these processes in the mouse olfactory bulb (OB) and uncover a role for OB acetylcholine (ACh) in physiological and behavioral olfactory dishabituation. We use calcium imaging in both awake and anesthetized mice to determine the time course and magnitude of OB glomerular habituation during a prolonged odor presentation. In addition, we develop a novel behavioral investigation paradigm to determine how prolonged odor input affects odor salience. We find that manipulating OB ACh release during prolonged odor presentations using electrical or optogenetic stimulation rapidly modulates habituated glomerular odor responses and odor salience, causing mice to suddenly investigate a previously ignored odor. To demonstrate the ethological validity of this effect, we show that changing the visual context can lead to dishabituation of odor investigation behavior, which is blocked by cholinergic antagonists in the OB.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology*
  • Anesthesia, General / methods
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects*
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Molecular Imaging
  • Odorants / analysis*
  • Olfactory Bulb / drug effects*
  • Olfactory Bulb / metabolism
  • Olfactory Perception / drug effects*
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology
  • Optogenetics
  • Smell / drug effects*
  • Smell / physiology
  • Stereotaxic Techniques
  • Wakefulness / physiology


  • Acetylcholine
  • Calcium