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Sci Rep. 2018 May 16;8(1):7625. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-25740-x.

Parallel odor processing by mitral and middle tufted cells in the olfactory bulb.

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Department of Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine, 06510, New Haven, CT, USA.
Dipartimento di Matematica "Federigo Enriques", Universita' degli Studi di Milano, 20133, Milano, Italy.
Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, 15213, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, University of Pittsburgh, 15213, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Utah, 84112, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, and Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, University of California, 92697, Irvine, CA, USA.
Department of Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine, 06510, New Haven, CT, USA.
Institute of Biophysics, National Research Council, 90146, Palermo, Italy.


The olfactory bulb (OB) transforms sensory input into spatially and temporally organized patterns of activity in principal mitral (MC) and middle tufted (mTC) cells. Thus far, the mechanisms underlying odor representations in the OB have been mainly investigated in MCs. However, experimental findings suggest that MC and mTC may encode parallel and complementary odor representations. We have analyzed the functional roles of these pathways by using a morphologically and physiologically realistic three-dimensional model to explore the MC and mTC microcircuits in the glomerular layer and deeper plexiform layer. The model makes several predictions. MCs and mTCs are controlled by similar computations in the glomerular layer but are differentially modulated in deeper layers. The intrinsic properties of mTCs promote their synchronization through a common granule cell input. Finally, the MC and mTC pathways can be coordinated through the deep short-axon cells in providing input to the olfactory cortex. The results suggest how these mechanisms can dynamically select the functional network connectivity to create the overall output of the OB and promote the dynamic synchronization of glomerular units for any given odor stimulus.

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