Short-lasting exposure to one odour decreases general reactivity in the olfactory bulb of adult rats


Correspondence: Nathalie Buonviso, as above. E-mail:


We investigated in adult rats whether a relatively short exposure to a novel odour can lead to changes in reactivity of olfactory bulb principal neurons. Naive rats were exposed to isoamyl acetate for 20 min per day either for 6 consecutive days or for a single 20-min exposure. Control group was non-exposed. Under anaesthesia, responsiveness of each recorded single mitral/tufted cell was tested towards isoamyl acetate and four other odours. Results show that the proportion of responding cells in the exposed groups decreased drastically when compared to controls. In the two experimental groups recorded 24 h following the last exposure, mitral/tufted cells show a significant decrease in the number of excitatory responses. In parallel, the number of non-responsive cells increased by at least a fourfold factor. This decrease in reactivity was not selective towards the odour used during the exposure but concerned any of the five test-odours presented during recordings. Finally, this lower responsiveness was long lasting as it was still observed 10 days after the end of the last exposure. This preliminary study points out the importance of even limited sensory experience in neural representation of odours.