Bi-directional encoding of context-based odors and behavioral states by the nucleus of the lateral olfactory tract

iScience. 2021 Mar 31;24(4):102381. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.102381. eCollection 2021 Apr 23.


The nucleus of the lateral olfactory tract (NLOT) is not only a part of the olfactory cortex that receives olfactory sensory inputs but also a part of the cortical amygdala, which regulates motivational behaviors. To examine how neural activity of the NLOT is modulated by decision-making processes that occur during various states of learned goal-directed behaviors, we recorded NLOT spike activities of mice performing odor-guided go/no-go tasks to obtain a water reward. We observed that several NLOT neurons exhibited sharp go-cue excitation and persistent no-go-cue suppression responses triggered by an odor onset. The bidirectional cue encoding introduced NLOT population response dynamics and provided a high odor decoding accuracy before executing cue-odor-evoked behaviors. The go-cue responsive neurons were also activated in the reward drinking state, indicating context-based odor-outcome associations. These findings suggest that NLOT neurons play an important role in the translation from context-based odor information to appropriate behavior.

Keywords: Behavioral Neuroscience; Neuroscience; Sensory Neuroscience.