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J Neurosci. 2016 Jul 20;36(29):7750-67. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0569-16.2016.

Gamma and Beta Oscillations Define a Sequence of Neurocognitive Modes Present in Odor Processing.

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Department of Psychology, Institute for Mind and Biology, and.
The College, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637.
Institute for Mind and Biology, and.
Department of Psychology, Institute for Mind and Biology, and The College, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637


Olfactory system beta (15-35 Hz) and gamma (40-110 Hz) oscillations of the local field potential in mammals have both been linked to odor learning and discrimination. Gamma oscillations represent the activity of a local network within the olfactory bulb, and beta oscillations represent engagement of a systemwide network. Here, we test whether beta and gamma oscillations represent different cognitive modes using the different demands of go/no-go and two-alternative choice tasks that previously were suggested to favor beta or gamma oscillations, respectively. We reconcile previous studies and show that both beta and gamma oscillations occur in both tasks, with gamma dominating the early odor sampling period (2-4 sniffs) and beta dominating later. The relative power and coherence of both oscillations depend separately on multiple factors within both tasks without categorical differences across tasks. While the early/gamma-associated period occurs in all trials, rats can perform above chance without the later/beta-associated period. Longer sampling, which includes beta oscillations, is associated with better performance. Gamma followed by beta oscillations therefore represents a sequence of cognitive and neural states during odor discrimination, which can be separately modified depending on the demands of a task and odor discrimination. Additionally, fast (85 Hz) and slow (70 Hz) olfactory bulb gamma oscillation sub-bands have been hypothesized to represent tufted and mitral cell networks, respectively (Manabe and Mori, 2013). We find that fast gamma favors the early and slow gamma the later (beta-dominated) odor-sampling period and that the relative contributions of these oscillations are consistent across tasks.


Olfactory system gamma (40-110 Hz) and beta (15-35 Hz) oscillations of the local field potential indicate different neural firing statistics and functional circuits. We show that gamma and beta oscillations occur in stereotyped sequence during odor sampling in associative tasks, with local gamma dominating the first 250 ms of odor sniffing, followed by systemwide beta as behavioral responses are prepared. Oscillations and coupling strength between brain regions are modulated by task, odor, and learning, showing that task features can dramatically adjust the dynamics of a cortical sensory system, which changes state every ∼250 ms. Understanding cortical circuits, even at the biophysical level, depends on careful use of multiple behavioral contexts and stimuli.


coherence; neural oscillation; olfactory bulb; piriform cortex

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