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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34926. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034926. Epub 2012 Apr 4.

Parallel odor processing by two anatomically distinct olfactory bulb target structures.

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Department of Neurosciences, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2012;7(8): doi/10.1371/annotation/eb15723f-2df7-4cd6-8113-c565652d0628.


The olfactory cortex encompasses several anatomically distinct regions each hypothesized to provide differential representation and processing of specific odors. Studies exploring whether or not the diversity of olfactory bulb input to olfactory cortices has functional meaning, however, are lacking. Here we tested whether two anatomically major olfactory cortical structures, the olfactory tubercle (OT) and piriform cortex (PCX), differ in their neural representation and processing dynamics of a small set of diverse odors by performing in vivo extracellular recordings from the OT and PCX of anesthetized mice. We found a wealth of similarities between structures, including odor-evoked response magnitudes, breadth of odor tuning, and odor-evoked firing latencies. In contrast, only few differences between structures were found, including spontaneous activity rates and odor signal-to-noise ratios. These results suggest that despite major anatomical differences in innervation by olfactory bulb mitral/tufted cells, the basic features of odor representation and processing, at least within this limited odor set, are similar within the OT and PCX. We predict that the olfactory code follows a distributed processing stream in transmitting behaviorally and perceptually-relevant information from low-level stations.

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