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Nat Neurosci. 2010 Nov;13(11):1404-12. doi: 10.1038/nn.2673. Epub 2010 Oct 17.

Non-redundant odor coding by sister mitral cells revealed by light addressable glomeruli in the mouse.

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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, USA.


Sensory inputs frequently converge on the brain in a spatially organized manner, often with overlapping inputs to multiple target neurons. Whether the responses of target neurons with common inputs become decorrelated depends on the contribution of local circuit interactions. We addressed this issue in the olfactory system using newly generated transgenic mice that express channelrhodopsin-2 in all of the olfactory sensory neurons. By selectively stimulating individual glomeruli with light, we identified mitral/tufted cells that receive common input (sister cells). Sister cells had highly correlated responses to odors, as measured by average spike rates, but their spike timing in relation to respiration was differentially altered. In contrast, non-sister cells correlated poorly on both of these measures. We suggest that sister mitral/tufted cells carry two different channels of information: average activity representing shared glomerular input and phase-specific information that refines odor representations and is substantially independent for sister cells.

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