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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Aug 15;103(33):12592-7. Epub 2006 Aug 8.

Viral tracing identifies distributed columnar organization in the olfactory bulb.

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Department of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Olfactory sensory neurons converge onto glomeruli in the olfactory bulb (OB) to form modular information processing units. Similar input modules are organized in translaminar columns for other sensory modalities. It has been less clear in the OB whether the initial modular organization relates to a columnar structure in the deeper layers involved in local circuit processing. To probe synaptic connectivity in the OB, we injected a retrograde-specific strain of the pseudorabies virus into the rat OB and piriform cortex. The viral-staining patterns revealed a striking columnar organization that extended across all layers of the OB from the glomeruli to the deep granule cell layer. We hypothesize that the columns represent an extension of the glomerular unit. Specific patterning was observed, suggesting selective, rather than distance-dependent, center-surround connectivity. The results provide a previously undescribed basis for interpreting the synaptic connections between mitral and granule cells within the context of a columnar organization in the OB and have implications for olfactory coding and network organization.

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