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Nat Neurosci. 1999 Nov;2(11):1003-9.

Odor- and context-dependent modulation of mitral cell activity in behaving rats.

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Division of Biology, 139-74, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.


The projections and odor responses of mammalian olfactory receptor neurons, as well as the physiology of the bulb's principal neurons-the mitral cells (MCs)-are known from studies in slices and anesthetized animals. In behaving rats trained to discriminate between two odors associated with different reinforcers, we examined MC responses following alternated odor-reinforcer pairings. Whereas only 11% of the recorded MCs showed changes in odor-selective firing rate during the odor-sampling phase, 94% of MCs modulated activity during specific behaviors surrounding odor sampling. These cell- and odor-selective responses were not primary sensory responses; rather, they depended (reversibly) on the predictive value of each odor. MC activity thus depends critically on efferent influences linked to the animal's experience and behavior.

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