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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jul 13;101(28):10476-81. Epub 2004 Jul 1.

Learning modulates the ensemble representations for odors in primary olfactory networks.

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Department of Entomology, Ohio State University, 400 Aronoff Laboratory, 318 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Recent evidence suggests that odor-driven responses in the insect antennal lobe (AL) can be modified by associative and nonassociative processes, as has been shown in the vertebrate olfactory bulb. However, the specific network changes that occur in response to olfactory learning remain unknown. To characterize changes in AL network activity during learning, we developed an in vivo protocol in Manduca sexta that allows continuous monitoring of neural ensembles and feeding behavior over the course of olfactory conditioning. Here, we show that Pavlovian conditioning produced a net recruitment of responsive neural units across the AL that persisted after conditioning. Recruitment only occurred when odor reliably predicted food. Conversely, when odor did not predict food, a net loss of responsive units occurred. Simultaneous measures of feeding responses indicated that the treatment-specific patterns of neural recruitment were positively correlated with changes in the insect's behavioral response to odor. In addition to recruitment, conditioning also produced consistent and profound shifts in the temporal responses of 16% of recorded units. These results show that odor representations in the AL are dynamic and related to olfactory memory consolidation. We furthermore provide evidence that the basis of the learning-dependent changes in the AL is not simply an increase in activity in the neural network representing an odorant. Rather, learning produces a restructuring of spatial and temporal components of network responses to odor in the AL.

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