Learning-induced changes in rat piriform cortex activity mapped using multisite recording with voltage sensitive dye

Eur J Neurosci. 1997 Aug;9(8):1593-602. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.1997.tb01517.x.


The piriform cortex (PCx) has a potential role in storage and recall of olfactory information. This study is a first extensive investigation of the spatiotemporal distribution of activity in the PCx induced by learned sensory inputs following conditioning. In a conditioned group, rats chronically implanted with four electrodes in the olfactory bulb were trained to associate the electrical stimulation of a given bulbar electrode with a positive reinforcement, while stimulation of a different electrode predicted a negative reinforcement. In a familiarized group, rats received the same protocol of daily electrical stimulation with no associated reinforcement. At the end of the conditioning or familiarization episode, activity evoked in the PCx was optically mapped using a 144 photodiode array. In the anaesthetized rats, PCx maps were recorded in response to stimulation of each of the four bulbar electrodes using either high (0.5-1 mA) or low (0.1 mA) test current intensities. Low intensity stimulation revealed that conditioning selectively enhanced the probability of occurrence of a signal composed of a single late (56-73 ms) component which occurred almost simultaneously on a large PCx area. In the conditioned group, high intensity stimulation through either of the four electrodes revealed a potentiation of the early (17-30 ms) disynaptic component of the PCx response in the most posterior part of the PCx as well as a homogeneous increase of the late (39-52 ms) component spread over the PCx areas. These data suggest that learning induces synaptic changes at different nodes of the PCx circuitry.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reinforcement, Psychology