Coupling of mouse olfactory bulb projection neurons to fluctuating odor pulses

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Odours are transported by turbulent air currents, creating complex temporal fluctuations in odour concentration that provide a potentially informative stimulus dimension. Recently, we have shown that mice are able to discriminate odour stimuli based on their temporal structure, indicating that information contained in the temporal structure of odour plumes can be extracted by the mouse olfactory system. Here, using in vivo extra- and intracellular electrophysiological recordings, we show that mitral and tufted cells (M/TCs) of the male C57BL/6 mouse olfactory bulb can encode the dominant temporal frequencies present in odour stimuli up to at least 20 Hz. A substantial population of cell-odour pairs showed significant coupling of their subthreshold membrane potential with the odour stimulus at both 2Hz (29/70) and the supra-sniff frequency 20Hz (24/70). Furthermore, M/TCs show differential coupling of their membrane potential to odour concentration fluctuations with tufted cells coupling more strongly for the 20Hz stimulation. Frequency coupling was always observed to be invariant to odour identity and M/TCs that coupled well to a mixture also coupled to at least one of the components of the mixture. Interestingly, pharmacological blocking of the inhibitory circuitry strongly modulated frequency coupling of cell-odour pairs at both 2Hz (10/15) and 20Hz (9/15). These results provide insight into how both cellular and circuit properties contribute to the encoding of temporal odour features in the mouse olfactory bulb.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTOdours in the natural environment have a strong temporal structure which can be extracted and used by mice in their behaviour. Here, using in vivo extra- and intracellular electrophysiological techniques, we show that the projection neurons in the olfactory bulb can encode and couple to the dominant frequency present in an odour stimulus. Furthermore, frequency coupling was observed to be differential between mitral and tufted cells, was odour-invariant but strongly modulated by local inhibitory circuits. In summary, this study provides insight into how both cellular and circuit properties modulate encoding of odour temporal features in the mouse olfactory bulb.

Journal details

Volume 42
Issue number 21
Pages 4278-4296
Available online
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