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Optical technique reveals unnexpected complexity in mammalian olfactory coding
Date:10/18/2010

the same moment, they fired asynchronously.

"This leads us to believe that two types of code are being utilized -- it's as if mitral cells are capable of conveying two different kinds of information to the cortex, and that they do so by multiplexing rate and time codes in the same message," according to Albeanu.

More information = more accurate odor representations?

These independent channels, the team speculates, might convey to the brain two different things. Changes in the rate of firing, they say, reflect the information coming from a glomerulus that sisters share. This very specific information is accompanied by an independent message that may reflect the average of the outputs of glomeruli in the general region, or "surround," of the specific glomerulus that the sisters share. These would be the product of information exchanged via the lateral connections between mitral cells with different lag times in firing, which the scientists call latencies. Broadcasting to the cortex on these two channels "would give the cortex more information with which to discriminate the odor that has been sensed," Albeanu says.

In future studies the scientists plan to systematically explore the effect of changing odor concentration on the rate and timing properties they have already observed. They have also already started to use the mouse line they created with light-sensitive olfactory sensory neurons in behavioral studies that may shed light onto what spatio-temporal rules govern odor coding at the level of the olfactory bulb.


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Contact: Peter Tarr
tarr@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3 4

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