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J Neurophysiol. 1994 Jan;71(1):150-60.

Topographic patterns of responsiveness to odorants in the rat olfactory epithelium.

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Faculty of Science and Technology, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland, Australia.


1. Regional differences in odorant-induced responsiveness of the rat olfactory epithelium were measured via electrophysiological recordings [negative component of electro-olfactogram (Veog(-)) made from the surface of the olfactory epithelium on the nasal septum]. The nasal septum provided a flat surface from which multiple recordings could be made. 2. Veog(-)s were recorded from a standardized grid of 16 sites. This grid of recording sites extended over most of the surface of the olfactory epithelium on the nasal septum. 3. Twenty-one animals were tested for their responses to seven odorants. The animals were divided into three groups, each of which was tested with two different odorants plus amyl acetate, which provided a comparison between the groups. 4. For each odorant in each animal, topographic maps of relative responsiveness were derived to test whether odorants elicited different patterns of responses in the same individual. Topographic maps of responsiveness were derived also for the animal groups to test for the generality of the form of the maps for different odorants. Response latencies were also measured for each odorant at each recording site. 5. All individuals showed different topographic patterns of responses to the three test odorants. For most odorants, the location of the most responsive site was similar in all animals. In different animals the topographic maps for the same odorant were remarkably similar. Topographic maps for the odorants were all different from one another. 6. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that odorant quality is encoded in the differential spatial distribution of receptor cells whose differences in responsiveness appear to be distributed as a continuum across the epithelium. The results establish for a mammalian species what was previously reported in amphibians. These differences are presumed to be due to differential expression of odorant receptor proteins. 7. The mean response latency was 32 ms. This period was similar for all odorants, all animals, and all recording sites and was independent of Veog(-) amplitude. It is concluded that diffusion through the mucus contributed approximately 6 ms to the latency of onset of the responses to these odorants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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