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Abstract / Description of output
Odorant molecules stimulate olfactory receptor neurons, and axons of these neurons project into the main olfactory bulb where they synapse onto mitral and tufted cells. These project to the primary olfactory cortex including the anterior olfactory nucleus (AON), the piriform cortex, amygdala, and the entorhinal cortex. The properties of mitral cells have been investigated extensively, but how odor information is processed in subsequent brain regions is less well known. In the present study, we recorded the electrical activity of AON neurons in anesthetized rats. Most AON cells fired in bursts of 2–10 spikes separated by very short intervals (<20 ms), in a period linked to the respiratory rhythm. Simultaneous recordings from adjacent neurons revealed that the rhythms of adjacent cells, while locked to the same underlying rhythm, showed marked differences in phase. We studied the responses of AON cells to brief high‐frequency stimulation of the lateral olfactory tract, mimicking brief activation of mitral cells by odor. In different cells, such stimuli evoked transient or sustained bursts during stimulation or, more commonly, post‐stimulation bursts after inhibition during stimulation. This suggests that, in AON cells, phase shifts occur as a result of post‐inhibitory rebound firing, following inhibition by mitral cell input, and we discuss how this supports processing of odor information in the olfactory pathway. Cells were tested for their responsiveness to a social odor (the bedding of a strange male) among other simple and complex odors tested. In total, 11 cells responded strongly and repeatedly to bedding odor, and these responses were diverse, including excitation (transient or sustained), inhibition, and activation after odor presentation, indicating that AON neurons respond not only to the type of complex odor but also to temporal features of odor application.