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Stimulus specific activity patterns in the granule cell networks of mice

It has been speculated that the olfactory bulb encodes information in the form of stimulus specific activity patterns. One of the key features of this population activity is the emergence of odor-specific spatial patterns of mitral cell spiking over a time course of 200–800 ms following stimulus (-odor) onset. We are interested in understanding the mechanisms involved in establishing and maintaining these spatial patterns. Here, we investigated the temporal response characteristics of granule cell activity by imaging activity in populations of olfactory bulb cells following bulk loading of calcium dye in olfactory bulb slices. We found that granule cells show varied (ranging from 0–900 ms) but reliable activation latencies (std. dev. = 50 ms). Moreover, we found that these activity patterns played a significant role in the generation and the maintenance of reliable spike patterns in mitral cells. Experiments in which multiple glomeruli were stimulated showed that the latency of granule cell activity is input specific and that individual granule cells respond most reliably to specific temporal patterns of stimulation. These data suggest that glomerular (~stimulus) identity is encoded in the form of latencies of granule cells activity, which in turn results in distinct stimulus specific changes in the pattern of mitral cell activity.

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Correspondence to Vikrant Kapoor.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Kapoor, V., Urban, N. Stimulus specific activity patterns in the granule cell networks of mice. BMC Neurosci 8 (Suppl 2), P173 (2007).

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  • Granule Cell
  • Olfactory Bulb
  • Imaging Activity
  • Mitral Cell
  • Spike Pattern