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Neuron. 2001 Nov 20;32(4):723-35.

Representation of odorants by receptor neuron input to the mouse olfactory bulb.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


To visualize odorant representations by receptor neuron input to the mouse olfactory bulb, we loaded receptor neurons with calcium-sensitive dye and imaged odorant-evoked responses from their axon terminals. Fluorescence increases reflected activation of receptor neuron populations converging onto individual glomeruli. We report several findings. First, five glomeruli were identifiable across animals based on their location and odorant responsiveness; all five showed complex response specificities. Second, maps of input were chemotopically organized at near-threshold concentrations but, at moderate concentrations, involved many widely distributed glomeruli. Third, the dynamic range of input to a glomerulus was greater than that reported for individual receptor neurons. Finally, odorant activation slopes could differ across glomeruli, and for different odorants activating the same glomerulus. These results imply a high degree of complexity in odorant representations at the level of olfactory bulb input.

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