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J Neurophysiol. 2012 Aug 1;108(3):782-93. doi: 10.1152/jn.00119.2012. Epub 2012 May 16.

Intraglomerular inhibition shapes the strength and temporal structure of glomerular output.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Program in Neuroscience, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


Odor signals are transmitted to the olfactory bulb by olfactory nerve (ON) synapses onto mitral/tufted cells (MCs) and external tufted cells (ETCs). ETCs, in turn, provide feedforward excitatory input to MCs. MC and ETCs are also regulated by inhibition: intraglomerular and interglomerular inhibitory circuits act at MC and ETC apical dendrites; granule cells (GCs) inhibit MC lateral dendrites via the MC→GC→MC circuit. We investigated the contribution of intraglomerular inhibition to MC and ETCs responses to ON input. ON input evokes initial excitation followed by early, strongly summating inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) in MCs; this is followed by prolonged, intermittent IPSCs. The N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist dl-amino-5-phosphovaleric acid, known to suppress GABA release by GCs, reduced late IPSCs but had no effect on early IPSCs. In contrast, selective intraglomerular block of GABA(A) receptors eliminated all early IPSCs and caused a 5-fold increase in ON-evoked MC spiking and a 10-fold increase in response duration. ETCs also receive intraglomerular inhibition; blockade of inhibition doubled ETC spike responses. By reducing ETC excitatory drive and directly inhibiting MCs, intraglomerular inhibition is a key factor shaping the strength and temporal structure of MC responses to sensory input. Sensory input generates an intraglomerular excitation-inhibition sequence that limits MC spike output to a brief temporal window. Glomerular circuits may dynamically regulate this input-output window to optimize MC encoding across sniff-sampled inputs.

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