Relation between stimulus and response in frog olfactory receptor neurons in vivo


: Dr J.-P. Rospars, as above.


The spiking activity of receptor neurons was recorded extracellularly in the frog olfactory epithelium in response to four odourants applied at precisely controlled concentrations. A set of criteria was formulated to define the spikes in the response. Four variables – latency, duration, number of interspike intervals and frequency – were determined to quantify the responses. They were studied at the single neuron, neuron population and ciliary membrane levels. The dose–response curves were determined using specific functions and their characteristics were evaluated. The characteristic molar concentrations at threshold or at maximum duration and the characteristics of variables, e.g. minimum latency or maximum frequency, have asymmetric histograms with peaks close to the origin and long tails. Dynamic ranges have even more asymmetric histograms, so that a significant fraction of neurons presents a much wider range than their one-decade peak. From these histograms, response properties of the whole neuron population can be inferred. In general, location along the concentration axis (thresholds), width (dynamic ranges) and heights of dose–response curves are independent, which explains the diversity of curves, prevents their global categorization and supports the qualitative coding of odourants. No evidence for odourant-independent types of neurons was found. Finally, receptor activation and ciliary membrane conductance were reconstructed in the framework of a model based on firing data, known mucus biochemical and neuron morpho-electrical characteristics. It is in agreement with independent determinations of Kd of odourant–receptor interaction and of conductance characteristics, and describes their statistical distributions in the neuron population.