Learning of a complex olfactory discrimination (OD) task results in acquisition of rule learning after prolonged training. Previously, we demonstrated enhanced synaptic connectivity between the piriform cortex (PC) and its ascending and descending inputs from the olfactory bulb (OB) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) following OD rule learning. Here, using recordings of evoked field postsynaptic potentials in behaving animals, we examined the dynamics by which these synaptic pathways are modified during rule acquisition. We show profound differences in synaptic connectivity modulation between the 2 input sources. During rule acquisition, the ascending synaptic connectivity from the OB to the anterior and posterior PC is simultaneously enhanced. Furthermore, post-training stimulation of the OB enhanced learning rate dramatically. In sharp contrast, the synaptic input in the descending pathway from the OFC was significantly reduced until training completion. Once rule learning was established, the strength of synaptic connectivity in the 2 pathways resumed its pretraining values. We suggest that acquisition of olfactory rule learning requires a transient enhancement of ascending inputs to the PC, synchronized with a parallel decrease in the descending inputs. This combined short-lived modulation enables the PC network to reorganize in a manner that enables it to first acquire and then maintain the rule.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by grant 698/11 from the Israel Science Foundation to E.B.
© 2013 The Author.
- Field potentials recordings
- Olfactory bulb
- Olfactory rule learning
- Orbitofrontal cortex
- Piriform cortex
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience