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Front Synaptic Neurosci. 2014 Sep 25;6:21. doi: 10.3389/fnsyn.2014.00021. eCollection 2014.

Paying attention to smell: cholinergic signaling in the olfactory bulb.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics and the Neuroscience Program, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Aurora, CO, USA.


The tractable, layered architecture of the olfactory bulb (OB), and its function as a relay between odor input and higher cortical processing, makes it an attractive model to study how sensory information is processed at a synaptic and circuit level. The OB is also the recipient of strong neuromodulatory inputs, chief among them being the central cholinergic system. Cholinergic axons from the basal forebrain modulate the activity of various cells and synapses within the OB, particularly the numerous dendrodendritic synapses, resulting in highly variable responses of OB neurons to odor input that is dependent upon the behavioral state of the animal. Behavioral, electrophysiological, anatomical, and computational studies examining the function of muscarinic and nicotinic cholinergic receptors expressed in the OB have provided valuable insights into the role of acetylcholine (ACh) in regulating its function. We here review various studies examining the modulation of OB function by cholinergic fibers and their target receptors, and provide putative models describing the role that cholinergic receptor activation might play in the encoding of odor information.


GABAergic; filter; glomerular; muscarinic; nicotinic

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