• calcium imaging;
  • odour representation;
  • olfactory bulb


When an odourant enters the nose, olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) convey information about it to the olfactory bulb (OB), where this information is processed and where the first central representations of the odourant are generated. In this paper we show how odourants are represented by ensembles of OB neurons, in particular mitral cells (MCs) which are the output neurons of the OB. We were able to demonstrate for the first time that the intracellular calcium concentrations ([Ca2+]i) in the somata of these neurons undergo specific changes and that different stimuli are represented by different neuronal [Ca2+]i patterns. The similarity of patterns was assessed by cross-correlation analysis. We further show that noradrenaline (NA), which is reported to be involved in olfactory memory formation and to modulate synaptic transmission at dendrodendritic synapses in the OB, profoundly changes the representation of odourants at the level of MCs.