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Impaired odour discrimination on desynchronization of odour-encoding neural assemblies

Stopfer, Mark and Bhagavan, Seetha and Smith, Brian H. and Laurent, Gilles (1997) Impaired odour discrimination on desynchronization of odour-encoding neural assemblies. Nature, 390 (6655). pp. 70-74. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/36335.

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Stimulus-evoked oscillatory synchronization of neural assemblies has been described in the olfactory and visual systems of several vertebrates and invertebrates. In locusts, information about odour identity is contained in the timing of action potentials in an oscillatory population response, suggesting that oscillations may reflect a common reference for messages encoded in time. Although the stimulus-evoked oscillatory phenomenon is reliable, its roles in sensation, perception, memory formation and pattern recognition remain to be demonstrated — a task requiring a behavioural paradigm. Using honeybees, we now demonstrate that odour encoding involves, as it does in locusts, the oscillatory synchronization of assemblies of projection neurons and that this synchronization is also selectively abolished by picrotoxin, an antagonist of the GABA_A (γ-aminobutyric acid) receptor. By using a behavioural learning paradigm, we show that picrotoxin-induced desynchronization impairs the discrimination of molecularly similar odorants, but not that of dissimilar odorants. It appears, therefore, that oscillatory synchronization of neuronal assemblies is functionally relevant, and essential for fine sensory discrimination. This suggests that oscillatory synchronization and the kind of temporal encoding it affords provide an additional dimension by which the brain could segment spatially overlapping stimulus representations.

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Laurent, Gilles0000-0002-2296-114X
Additional Information:© 1997 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Received 9 July; accepted 6 August 1997. We thank K. MacLeod, L. Kay, M. Wehr, A. Hershowitz and H. Krapp for their helpful comments. Supported by an NRSA (NIDCD) fellowship (M.S.), an NIMH grant (B.H.S.), an NSF grant, an NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow award, and a grant from the Sloan Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Caltech (G.L.).
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National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication DisordersUNSPECIFIED
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)UNSPECIFIED
Sloan Center for Theoretical NeuroscienceUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:6655
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150616-151126046
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:58291
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:16 Jun 2015 23:24
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 22:02

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