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J Neurosci. 2007 Oct 31;27(44):11966-77.

Processing of odor mixtures in the Drosophila antennal lobe reveals both global inhibition and glomerulus-specific interactions.

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Institute of Neurobiology, Free University of Berlin, 14195 Berlin, Germany.


To understand how odor information is represented and processed in the antennal lobe (AL) of Drosophila melanogaster, we have optically recorded glomerular calcium responses to single odors and odor mixtures from olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) and projection neurons (PNs). Odor mixtures offer a good tool to analyze odor processing because experimental results can be tested against clear predictions. At the level of the OSNs, the representation of odor mixtures could be predicted from the response patterns of the components in most cases. PN responses to mixtures, however, provide evidences of interglomerular inhibition. Application of picrotoxin (PTX), an antagonist of GABA(A)-like receptors, enhanced odor responses, modified their temporal course, and eliminated mixture suppression at the PN level. Our results can be best explained by postulating the existence of at least two local networks in the fly AL: a glomerulus specific network, which includes excitatory and inhibitory connections and a PTX sensitive inhibitory global network that acts on all glomeruli with proportional strength to the global AL input.

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