Contrast enhancement of stimulus intermittency in a primary olfactory network and its behavioral significance

Hong Lei, Jeffrey A. Riffell, Stephanie L. Gage, John G Hildebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background. An animal navigating to an unseen odor source must accurately resolve the spatiotemporal distribution of that stimulus in order to express appropriate upwind flight behavior. Intermittency of natural odor plumes, caused by air turbulence, is critically important for many insects, including the hawkmoth, Manduca sexta, for odor-modulated search behavior to an odor source. When a moth's antennae receive intermittent odor stimulation, the projection neurons (PNs) in the primary olfactory centers (the antennal lobes), which are analogous to the olfactory bulbs of vertebrates, generate discrete bursts of action potentials separated by periods of inhibition, suggesting that the PNs may use the binary burst/non-burst neural patterns to resolve and enhance the intermittency of the stimulus encountered in the odor plume. Results. We tested this hypothesis first by establishing that bicuculline methiodide reliably and reversibly disrupted the ability of PNs to produce bursting response patterns. Behavioral studies, in turn, demonstrated that after injecting this drug into the antennal lobe at the effective concentration used in the physiological experiments animals could no longer efficiently locate the odor source, even though they had detected the odor signal. Conclusions. Our results establish a direct link between the bursting response pattern of PNs and the odor-tracking behavior of the moth, demonstrating the behavioral significance of resolving the dynamics of a natural odor stimulus in antennal lobe circuits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21
JournalJournal of Biology
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

Fingerprint

Odors
odors
antennal lobe
Neurons
neurons
Moths
moths
Animals
Odorants
Manduca
Aptitude
olfactory bulb
Olfactory Bulb
Manduca sexta
action potentials
antennae
Action Potentials
laboratory animals
Insects
Vertebrates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Contrast enhancement of stimulus intermittency in a primary olfactory network and its behavioral significance. / Lei, Hong; Riffell, Jeffrey A.; Gage, Stephanie L.; Hildebrand, John G.

In: Journal of Biology, Vol. 8, No. 2, 21, 2009.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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