The Olfactory Bulb Facilitates Use of Category Bounds for Classification of Odorants in Different Intensity Groups

Front Cell Neurosci. 2020 Dec 11:14:613635. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2020.613635. eCollection 2020.


Signal processing of odor inputs to the olfactory bulb (OB) changes through top-down modulation whose shaping of neural rhythms in response to changes in stimulus intensity is not understood. Here we asked whether the representation of a high vs. low intensity odorant in the OB by oscillatory neural activity changed as the animal learned to discriminate odorant concentration ranges in a go-no go task. We trained mice to discriminate between high vs. low concentration odorants by learning to lick to the rewarded group (low or high). We recorded the local field potential (LFP) in the OB of these mice and calculated the theta-referenced beta or gamma oscillation power (theta phase-referenced power, or tPRP). We found that as the mouse learned to differentiate odorant concentrations, tPRP diverged between trials for the rewarded vs. the unrewarded concentration range. For the proficient animal, linear discriminant analysis was able to predict the rewarded odorant group and the performance of this classifier correlated with the percent correct behavior in the odor concentration discrimination task. Interestingly, the behavioral response and decoding accuracy were asymmetric as a function of concentration when the rewarded stimulus was shifted between the high and low odorant concentration ranges. A model for decision making motivated by the statistics of OB activity that uses a single threshold in a logarithmic concentration scale displays this asymmetry. Taken together with previous studies on the intensity criteria for decisions on odorant concentrations, our finding suggests that OB oscillatory events facilitate decision making to classify concentrations using a single intensity criterion.

Keywords: decoding; go-no go; learning; odorant concentration; oscillations.