The role of the ventral dentate gyrus in olfactory pattern separation



Dorsoventral lesion studies of the hippocampus have indicated that the dorsal axis of the hippocampus is important for spatial processing and the ventral axis of the hippocampus is important for olfactory learning and memory and anxiety. There is some evidence to suggest that the ventral CA3 and ventral CA1 conduct parallel processes for pattern completion and temporal processing, respectively. Studies have indicated that the dorsal dentate gyrus (DG) is importantly involved in processes reflecting underlying pattern separation activity for spatial information. However, the ventral DG is less understood. The current study investigated the less-understood role of the ventral DG in olfactory pattern separation. A series of odor stimuli that varied on only one level, number of carbon chains (methyl groups), was used in a matching-to-sample paradigm in order to investigate ventral DG involvement in working memory for similar and less similar odors. Rats with ventral DG lesions were impaired at delays of 60 sec, but not at delays of 15 sec. A memory-based pattern separation effect was observed performance was poorest with only one carbon chain separation between trial odors and was highest for trials with four separations. The present study indicates that the ventral DG plays an important role in olfactory learning and memory processes for highly similar odors. The results also indicate a role for the ventral DG in pattern separation for odor information, which may have further implications for parallel processing across the dorsoventral axis for the DG in spatial (dorsal) and olfactory (ventral) pattern separation. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.