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Neuron. 2011 Oct 6;72(1):41-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.08.015.

A major role for intracortical circuits in the strength and tuning of odor-evoked excitation in olfactory cortex.

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Center for Neural Circuits and Behavior, Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


In primary sensory cortices, there are two main sources of excitation: afferent sensory input relayed from the periphery and recurrent intracortical input. Untangling the functional roles of these two excitatory pathways is fundamental for understanding how cortical neurons process sensory stimuli. Odor representations in the primary olfactory (piriform) cortex depend on excitatory sensory afferents from the olfactory bulb. However, piriform cortex pyramidal cells also receive dense intracortical excitatory connections, and the relative contribution of these two pathways to odor responses is unclear. Using a combination of in vivo whole-cell voltage-clamp recording and selective synaptic silencing, we show that the recruitment of intracortical input, rather than olfactory bulb input, largely determines the strength of odor-evoked excitatory synaptic transmission in rat piriform cortical neurons. Furthermore, we find that intracortical synapses dominate odor-evoked excitatory transmission in broadly tuned neurons, whereas bulbar synapses dominate excitatory synaptic responses in more narrowly tuned neurons.

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