Task-Demand-Dependent Neural Representation of Odor Information in the Olfactory Bulb and Posterior Piriform Cortex

Wang, DJ; Liu, PL; Mao, XF; Zhou, Z; Cao, TT; Xu, JS; Sun, CC; Li, A

Li, A (reprint author), Xuzhou Med Univ, Res Ctr Biochem & Mol Biol, Jiangsu Key Lab Brain Dis & Bioinformat, Xuzhou 221004, Jiangsu, Peoples R China.

JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, 2019; 39 (50): 10002


In awake rodents, the neural representation of olfactory information in the olfactory bulb is largely dependent on brain state and behavioral context. Learning-modified neural plasticity has been observed in mitral/tufted cells, the main output neurons of the olfactory bulb. Here, we propose that the odor information encoded by mitral/tufted cell responses in awake mice is highly dependent on the behavioral task demands. We used fiber photometry to record calcium signals from the mitral/tufted cell population in awake, head-fixed male mice under different task demands. We found that the mitral/tufted cell population showed similar responses to two distinct odors when the odors were presented in the context of a go/go task, in which the mice received a water reward regardless of the identity of the odor presented. However, when the same odors were presented in a go/no-go task, in which one odor was rewarded and the other was not, then the mitral cell population responded very differently to the two odors, characterized by a robust reduction in the response to the nonrewarded odor. Thus, the representation of odors in the mitral/tufted cell population depends on whether the task requires discrimination of the odors. Strikingly, downstream of the olfactory bulb, pyramidal neurons in the posterior piriform cortex also displayed a task-demand-dependent neural representation of odors, but the anterior piriform cortex did not, indicating that these two important higher olfactory centers use different strategies for neural representation.

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