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J Comp Neurol. 2009 Jan 1;512(1):115-23. doi: 10.1002/cne.21900.

Contralateral projections of the rat anterior olfactory nucleus.

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Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904, USA.


The anterior olfactory nucleus (AON) is a central olfactory cortical structure that has heavy reciprocal connections with both the olfactory bulb (OB) and piriform cortex. While it has been firmly established that the AON is a primary source of bilateral projections in the olfactory system through extensive connections with both the ipsilateral and contralateral OB, AON, and piriform cortex, few studies have examined this circuitry in detail. In the present study we used small injections of the anterograde tracer Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) and the retrograde tracer FluoroGold in specific subregions of the AON to explore the topography of the interconnections between the left and right AONs. Labeled fibers were found in the contralateral AON following injections in all areas. However, detailed quantitative analyses revealed that different regions of the AON have distinct patterns of interhemispheric innervation; contralateral fibers were most heavily targeted to dorsal and lateral AON subregions, while the medial and ventral areas received relatively light projections. These results demonstrate important features of the interhemispheric circuitry of the AON and suggest separate functional roles for subregions of the AON in olfactory information processing.

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