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J Neurosci. 2006 Nov 1;26(44):11257-66.

Activity-dependent plasticity in the olfactory intrabulbar map.

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Developmental Neural Plasticity Unit, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


In mammals, each olfactory bulb contains two mirror-symmetric glomerular maps. Isofunctional glomeruli within each bulb are specifically linked through a set of reciprocal intrabulbar projections (IBPs) to form an intrabulbar map. We injected neural tracers into the glomerular layer on one side of the bulb and examined the resulting projection on the opposite side. In adult mice, the size of the projection tuft is directly proportional to the size of the injected region. Using this ratio as a measure of IBP maturity, we find an immature 5:1 projection to injection ratio at 1 week of age that gradually refines to a mature 1:1 by 7 weeks. Moreover, whereas the glomerular map is able to form despite the elimination of odorant-induced activity, the intrabulbar map shows clear activity dependence for its precise formation. Here we show through experiments with both naris-occluded and anosmic mice that odorant-induced activity is not required to establish IBPs but is crucial for projection refinement. In contrast, increased glomerular activation through exposure to distinct odorants during map development can accelerate the refinement of projections associated with the activated glomeruli. These findings illustrate a clear role for odorant-induced activity in shaping the internal circuitry of the bulb. Interestingly, activity deprivation can alter the organization of both the developing and the mature map to the same degree, demonstrating that intrabulbar map plasticity is maintained into adulthood with no discernible critical period.

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