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J Neurosci. 2003 Mar 1;23(5):1903-15.

Representation of odor habituation and timing in the hippocampus.

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  • 1National Centre for Biological Sciences, Gandhi Krishi Vignana Kendra Campus, Bangalore 560065, India.


We performed simultaneous single-neuron recordings from the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb of anesthetized, freely breathing rats. Odor response properties of neurons in the olfactory bulb and hippocampus were characterized as firing rate changes or respiration-coupled changes. A panel of five odors was used. The rats had not been exposed to the odors on the panel before the experiment. The olfactory bulb and hippocampal neurons responded to repeated odor presentations in two ways: first, by changes in firing rate, and second, by respiratory tuning changes. Approximately 60% of bulbar neurons, 48% of hippocampal CA1 neurons, and 12% of hippocampal CA3 neurons showed statistically significant responses. None of the odor-responsive neurons in either the bulb or hippocampus responded to all of the odors on the panel. Repeated 10 sec odor stimuli presented at the intervals of 20, 30, 60, 110, and 160 sec were used to analyze the effect of the interval on odor response properties of the recorded neurons. Bulbar neurons were relatively nonselective for odor interval. Hippocampal neurons showed unexpected selectivity for the interval between repeated odor presentations. CA1 and CA3 neurons responded to only one to three of the intervals in the range. On the basis of these findings, we postulate that the hippocampus has the ability to keep track of the time elapsed between consecutive odor stimuli. This may act as a neuronal substrate for habituation and for complex tasks such as odor-guided navigation.

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