Dynamic contrast enhancement and flexible odor codes

Nat Commun. 2018 Aug 3;9(1):3062. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05533-6.


Sensory stimuli evoke spiking activities patterned across neurons and time that are hypothesized to encode information about their identity. Since the same stimulus can be encountered in a multitude of ways, how stable or flexible are these stimulus-evoked responses? Here we examine this issue in the locust olfactory system. In the antennal lobe, we find that both spatial and temporal features of odor-evoked responses vary in a stimulus-history dependent manner. The response variations are not random, but allow the antennal lobe circuit to enhance the uniqueness of the current stimulus. Nevertheless, information about the odorant identity is conf ounded due to this contrast enhancement computation. Notably, predictions from a linear logical classifier (OR-of-ANDs) that can decode information distributed in flexible subsets of neurons match results from behavioral experiments. In sum, our results suggest that a trade-off between stability and flexibility in sensory coding can be achieved using a simple computational logic.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Clinical Coding / methods*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Grasshoppers
  • Models, Neurological
  • Odorants*
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology*
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / physiology
  • Smell / physiology
  • Support Vector Machine