A Mirror-Symmetric Excitatory Link Coordinates Odor Maps across Olfactory Bulbs and Enables Odor Perceptual Unity

Neuron. 2018 Aug 22;99(4):800-813.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.07.012. Epub 2018 Aug 2.


Sensory input reaching the brain from bilateral and offset channels is nonetheless perceived as unified. This unity could be explained by simultaneous projections to both hemispheres, or inter-hemispheric information transfer between sensory cortical maps. Odor input, however, is not topographically organized, nor does it project bilaterally, making olfactory perceptual unity enigmatic. Here we report a circuit that interconnects mirror-symmetric isofunctional mitral/tufted cells between the mouse olfactory bulbs. Connected neurons respond to similar odors from ipsi- and contra-nostrils, whereas unconnected neurons do not respond to odors from the contralateral nostril. This connectivity is likely mediated through a one-to-one mapping from mitral/tufted neurons to the ipsilateral anterior olfactory nucleus pars externa, which activates the mirror-symmetric isofunctional mitral/tufted neurons glutamatergically. This circuit enables sharing of odor information across hemispheres in the absence of a cortical topographical organization, suggesting that olfactory glomerular maps are the equivalent of cortical sensory maps found in other senses.

Keywords: AONpE; bilateral information transfer; inter-hemispheric; mirror-symmetric; odor; odor maps; olfaction; optogenetics; perceptual unity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mirror Neurons / chemistry
  • Mirror Neurons / physiology*
  • Odorants*
  • Olfactory Bulb / chemistry
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / chemistry
  • Olfactory Pathways / cytology
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Smell / physiology*