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Neuronal activity of mitral-tufted cells in awake rats during passive and active odorant stimulation

Journal of Neurophysiology
American Physiological Society
Publication Date
  • Rabbit Olfactory-Bulb
  • Induced Oscillatory Responses
  • Context-Dependent Modulation
  • Multiunit Recordings
  • Mitral/Tufted Cells
  • Gamma-Oscillations
  • Beta-Oscillations
  • Cortex
  • System
  • Representations


Odorants induce specific modulation of mitral/tufted (MT) cells' firing rate in the mammalian olfactory bulb (OB), inducing temporal patterns of neuronal discharge embedded in an oscillatory local field potential (LFP). While most studies have examined anesthetized animals, little is known about the firing rate and temporal patterns of OB single units and population activity in awake behaving mammals. We examined the firing rate and oscillatory activity of MT cells and LFP signals in behaving rats during two olfactory tasks: passive exposure (PE) and two-alternative (TA) choice discrimination. MT inhibitory responses are predominant in the TA task (76.5%), whereas MT excitatory responses predominate in the PE task (59.2%). Rhythmic discharge in the 12- to 100-Hz range was found in 79.0 and 68.9% of MT cells during PE and TA tasks, respectively. Most odorants presented in PE task increase rhythmic discharges at frequencies > 50 Hz, whereas in TA, one of four odorants produced a modest increment < 40 Hz. LFP oscillations were clearly modulated by odorants during the TA task, increasing their oscillatory power at frequencies centered at 20 Hz and decreasing power at frequencies > 50 Hz. Our results indicate that firing rate responses of MT cells in awake animals are behaviorally modulated with inhibition being a prominent feature of this modulation. The occurrence of oscillatory patterns in single- and multiunitary discharge is also related to stimulation and behavioral context, while the oscillatory patterns of the neuronal population showed a strong dependence on odorant stimulation.

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