Changes in electrophysiological activity in the accessory olfactory bulb and medial amygdala associated with mate recognition in mice


Dr P. A. Brennan, as above.


The ability of female mice to recognize their mate's pheromonal identity is critical for the maintenance of their pregnancy and is hypothesized to involve increases in the inhibitory control of mitral/tufted projection neurons in the accessory olfactory bulb. Local field potential recordings from this region of freely behaving female mice showed oscillating neural activity over a wide range of frequencies, which was affected by chemosensory input and prior experience. Mating caused lasting increases in the baseline neural activity in the accessory olfactory bulb, with large increases in the amplitude of local field potential oscillations across a range of frequencies. Exposure to the mate's urinary cues remained effective in increasing the power of these oscillations following mating, but urinary cues from an unfamiliar male were ineffective. A differential response to the familiar and unfamiliar chemosignals was also observed at the level of the amygdala following mating. Individual neurons in the medial amygdala responded more strongly to urine from an unfamiliar male than from the mating male. These findings are consistent with the selective enhancement of inhibition of the familiar pheromonal signal at the level of the accessory olfactory bulb, which is proposed to underlie recognition of the mating male.