Cortical feedback control of olfactory bulb circuits.
ABSTRACT: Olfactory cortex pyramidal cells integrate sensory input from olfactory bulb mitral and tufted (M/T) cells and project axons back to the bulb. However, the impact of cortical feedback projections on olfactory bulb circuits is unclear. Here, we selectively express channelrhodopsin-2 in olfactory cortex pyramidal cells and show that cortical feedback projections excite diverse populations of bulb interneurons. Activation of cortical fibers directly excites GABAergic granule cells, which in turn inhibit M/T cells. However, we show that cortical inputs preferentially target short axon cells that drive feedforward inhibition of granule cells. In vivo, activation of olfactory cortex that only weakly affects spontaneous M/T cell firing strongly gates odor-evoked M/T cell responses: cortical activity suppresses odor-evoked excitation and enhances odor-evoked inhibition. Together, these results indicate that although cortical projections have diverse actions on olfactory bulb microcircuits, the net effect of cortical feedback on M/T cells is an amplification of odor-evoked inhibition.
Project description:The olfactory bulb receives rich glutamatergic projections from the piriform cortex. However, the dynamics and importance of these feedback signals remain unknown. Here, we use multiphoton calcium imaging to monitor cortical feedback in the olfactory bulb of awake mice and further probe its impact on the bulb output. Responses of feedback boutons were sparse, odor specific, and often outlasted stimuli by several seconds. Odor presentation either enhanced or suppressed the activity of boutons. However, any given bouton responded with stereotypic polarity across multiple odors, preferring either enhancement or suppression. Feedback representations were locally diverse and differed in dynamics across bulb layers. Inactivation of piriform cortex increased odor responsiveness and pairwise similarity of mitral cells but had little impact on tufted cells. We propose that cortical feedback differentially impacts these two output channels of the bulb by specifically decorrelating mitral cell responses to enable odor separation.
Project description:Sensory perception is not a simple feed-forward process, and higher brain areas can actively modulate information processing in "lower" areas. We used optogenetic methods to examine how cortical feedback projections affect circuits in the first olfactory processing stage, the olfactory bulb. Selective activation of back projections from the anterior olfactory nucleus/cortex (AON) revealed functional glutamatergic synaptic connections on several types of bulbar interneurons. Unexpectedly, AON axons also directly depolarized mitral cells (MCs), enough to elicit spikes reliably in a time window of a few milliseconds. MCs received strong disynaptic inhibition, a third of which arises in the glomerular layer. Activating feedback axons in vivo suppressed spontaneous as well as odor-evoked activity of MCs, sometimes preceded by a temporally precise increase in firing probability. Our study indicates that cortical feedback can shape the activity of bulbar output neurons by enabling precisely timed spikes and enforcing broad inhibition to suppress background activity.
Project description:Odor representations are initially formed in the olfactory bulb, which contains a topographic glomerular map of odor molecular features. The bulb transmits sensory information directly to piriform cortex, where it is encoded by distributed ensembles of pyramidal cells without spatial order. Intriguingly, piriform cortex pyramidal cells project back to the bulb, but the information contained in this feedback projection is unknown. Here, we use imaging in awake mice to directly monitor activity in the presynaptic boutons of cortical feedback fibers. We show that the cortex provides the bulb with a rich array of information for any individual odor and that cortical feedback is dependent on brain state. In contrast to the stereotyped, spatial arrangement of olfactory bulb glomeruli, cortical inputs tuned to different odors commingle and indiscriminately target individual glomerular channels. Thus, the cortex modulates early odor representations by broadcasting sensory information diffusely onto spatially ordered bulbar circuits.
Project description:In a complex and dynamic environment, the brain flexibly adjusts its circuits to preferentially process behaviorally relevant information. Here, we investigated how the olfactory bulb copes with this demand by examining the plasticity of adult-born granule cells (abGCs). We found that learning of olfactory discrimination elevates odor responses of young abGCs and increases their apical dendritic spines. This plasticity did not occur in abGCs during passive odor experience nor in resident granule cells (rGCs) during learning. Furthermore, we found that feedback projections from the piriform cortex show elevated activity during learning, and activating piriform feedback elicited stronger excitatory postsynaptic currents in abGCs than rGCs. Inactivation of piriform feedback blocked abGC plasticity during learning, and activation of piriform feedback during passive experience induced learning-like plasticity of abGCs. Our work describes a neural circuit mechanism that uses adult neurogenesis to update a sensory circuit to flexibly adapt to new behavioral demands.
Project description:In primary sensory cortices, there are two main sources of excitation: afferent sensory input relayed from the periphery and recurrent intracortical input. Untangling the functional roles of these two excitatory pathways is fundamental for understanding how cortical neurons process sensory stimuli. Odor representations in the primary olfactory (piriform) cortex depend on excitatory sensory afferents from the olfactory bulb. However, piriform cortex pyramidal cells also receive dense intracortical excitatory connections, and the relative contribution of these two pathways to odor responses is unclear. Using a combination of in vivo whole-cell voltage-clamp recording and selective synaptic silencing, we show that the recruitment of intracortical input, rather than olfactory bulb input, largely determines the strength of odor-evoked excitatory synaptic transmission in rat piriform cortical neurons. Furthermore, we find that intracortical synapses dominate odor-evoked excitatory transmission in broadly tuned neurons, whereas bulbar synapses dominate excitatory synaptic responses in more narrowly tuned neurons.
Project description:The broadly-distributed, non-topographic projections to and from the olfactory cortex may suggest a flat, non-hierarchical organization in odor information processing. Layer 2 principal neurons in the anterior piriform cortex (APC) can be divided into 2 subtypes: semilunar (SL) and superficial pyramidal (SP) cells. Although it is known that SL and SP cells receive differential inputs from the olfactory bulb (OB), little is known about their projections to other olfactory regions. Here, we examined axonal projections of SL and SP cells using a combination of mouse genetics and retrograde labeling. Retrograde tracing from the OB or posterior piriform cortex (PPC) showed that the APC projects to these brain regions mainly through layer 2b cells, and dual-labeling revealed many cells extending collaterals to both target regions. Furthermore, a transgenic mouse line specifically labeling SL cells showed that they send profuse axonal projections to olfactory cortical areas, but not to the OB. These findings support a model in which information flow from SL to SP cells and back to the OB is mediated by a hierarchical feedback circuit, whereas both SL and SP cells broadcast information to higher olfactory areas in a parallel manner.
Project description:Using two photon-guided focal stimulation, we found spike timing-dependent plasticity of proximal excitatory inputs to olfactory bulb granule cells that originated, in part, from cortical feedback projections. The protocol that potentiated proximal inputs depressed distal, dendrodendritic inputs to granule cells. Granule cell excitatory postsynaptic potentials and mitral cell inhibition were also potentiated by theta-burst stimulation. Plasticity of cortical feedback inputs to interneurons provides a mechanism for encoding information by modulating bulbar inhibition.
Project description:Much of the computational power of the mammalian brain arises from its extensive top-down projections. To enable neuron-specific information processing these projections have to be precisely targeted. How such a specific connectivity emerges and what functions it supports is still poorly understood. We addressed these questions in silico in the context of the profound structural plasticity of the olfactory system. At the core of this plasticity are the granule cells of the olfactory bulb, which integrate bottom-up sensory inputs and top-down inputs delivered by vast top-down projections from cortical and other brain areas. We developed a biophysically supported computational model for the rewiring of the top-down projections and the intra-bulbar network via adult neurogenesis. The model captures various previous physiological and behavioral observations and makes specific predictions for the cortico-bulbar network connectivity that is learned by odor exposure and environmental contexts. Specifically, it predicts that-after learning-the granule-cell receptive fields with respect to sensory and with respect to cortical inputs are highly correlated. This enables cortical cells that respond to a learned odor to enact disynaptic inhibitory control specifically of bulbar principal cells that respond to that odor. For this the reciprocal nature of the granule cell synapses with the principal cells is essential. Functionally, the model predicts context-enhanced stimulus discrimination in cluttered environments ('olfactory cocktail parties') and the ability of the system to adapt to its tasks by rapidly switching between different odor-processing modes. These predictions are experimentally testable. At the same time they provide guidance for future experiments aimed at unraveling the cortico-bulbar connectivity.
Project description:Circuits in the brain possess the ability to orchestrate activities on different timescales, but the manner in which distinct circuits interact to sculpt diverse rhythms remains unresolved. The olfactory bulb is a classic example of a place in which slow theta and fast gamma rhythms coexist. Furthermore, inhibitory interneurons that are generally implicated in rhythm generation are segregated into distinct layers, neatly separating local and global motifs. We combined intracellular recordings in vivo with circuit-specific optogenetic interference to examine the contribution of inhibition to rhythmic activity in the mouse olfactory bulb. We found that the two inhibitory circuits controlled rhythms on distinct timescales: local, glomerular networks coordinated theta activity, regulating baseline and odor-evoked inhibition, whereas granule cells orchestrated gamma synchrony and spike timing. Notably, granule cells did not contribute to baseline rhythms or sniff-coupled odor-evoked inhibition. Thus, activities on theta and gamma timescales are controlled by separate, dissociable inhibitory networks in the olfactory bulb.
Project description:Understanding how each of the many interneuron subtypes affects brain network activity is critical. In the mouse olfactory system, mitral cells (MCs) and tufted cells (TCs) comprise parallel pathways of olfactory bulb output that are thought to play distinct functional roles in odor coding. Here, in acute mouse olfactory bulb slices, we test how the two major classes of olfactory bulb interneurons differentially contribute to differences in MC versus TC response properties. We show that, whereas TCs respond to olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) stimulation with short latencies regardless of stimulation intensity, MC latencies correlate negatively with stimulation intensity. These differences between MCs and TCs are caused in part by weaker excitatory and stronger inhibitory currents onto MCs than onto TCs. These differences in inhibition between MCs and TCs are most pronounced during the first 150 ms after stimulation and are mediated by glomerular layer circuits. Therefore, blocking inhibition originating in the glomerular layer, but not granule-cell-mediated inhibition, reduces MC spike latency at weak stimulation intensities and distinct temporal patterns of odor-evoked responses in MCs and TCs emerge in part due to differences in glomerular-layer-mediated inhibition.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Olfactory bulb mitral and tufted cells display different odor-evoked responses and are thought to form parallel channels of olfactory bulb output. Therefore, determining the circuit-level causes that drive these differences is vital. Here, we find that longer-latency responses in mitral cells, compared with tufted cells, are due to weaker excitation and stronger glomerular-layer-mediated inhibition.