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Keywords:

  • coding;
  • local field potentials;
  • molecular features;
  • olfactory bulb;
  • oscillations;
  • respiratory cycle

Abstract

A central question in chemical senses is the way that odorant molecules are represented in the brain. To date, many studies, when taken together, suggest that structural features of the molecules are represented through a spatio-temporal pattern of activation in the olfactory bulb (OB), in both glomerular and mitral cell layers. Mitral/tufted cells interact with a large population of inhibitory interneurons resulting in a temporal patterning of bulbar local field potential (LFP) activity. We investigated the possibility that molecular features could determine the temporal pattern of LFP oscillatory activity in the OB. For this purpose, we recorded the LFPs in the OB of urethane-anesthetized, freely breathing rats in response to series of aliphatic odorants varying subtly in carbon-chain length or functional group. In concordance with our previous reports, we found that odors evoked oscillatory activity in the LFP signal in both the beta and gamma frequency bands. Analysis of LFP oscillations revealed that, although molecular features have almost no influence on the intrinsic characteristics of LFP oscillations, they influence the temporal patterning of bulbar oscillations. Alcohol family odors rarely evoke gamma oscillations, whereas ester family odors rather induce oscillatory patterns showing beta/gamma alternation. Moreover, for molecules with the same functional group, the probability of gamma occurrence is correlated to the vapor pressure of the odor. The significance of the relation between odorant features and oscillatory regimes along with their functional relevance are discussed.