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Neuron. 2012 Jun 21;74(6):1087-98. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.04.021.

Odor representations in olfactory cortex: distributed rate coding and decorrelated population activity.

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1
Center for Brain Science, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.

Abstract

VIDEO ABSTRACT:

How information encoded in neuronal spike trains is used to guide sensory decisions is a fundamental question. In olfaction, a single sniff is sufficient for fine odor discrimination but the neural representations on which olfactory decisions are based are unclear. Here, we recorded neural ensemble activity in the anterior piriform cortex (aPC) of rats performing an odor mixture categorization task. We show that odors evoke transient bursts locked to sniff onset and that odor identity can be better decoded using burst spike counts than by spike latencies or temporal patterns. Surprisingly, aPC ensembles also exhibited near-zero noise correlations during odor stimulation. Consequently, fewer than 100 aPC neurons provided sufficient information to account for behavioral speed and accuracy, suggesting that behavioral performance limits arise downstream of aPC. These findings demonstrate profound transformations in the dynamics of odor representations from the olfactory bulb to cortex and reveal likely substrates for odor-guided decisions.

PMID:
22726838
PMCID:
PMC3383608
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuron.2012.04.021
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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