Olfactory learning is associated with increased spine density along apical dendrites of pyramidal neurons in the rat piriform cortex

Shira Knafo, Yoram Grossman, Edi Barkai, Gadi Benshalom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We studied the effect of olfactory learning on the dendritic spine density of pyramidal neurons in the rat piriform (olfactory) cortex. Rats were trained to distinguish between two pairs of odours in an olfactory discrimination task. Three days after training completion, rats were killed and layer II pyramidal neurons identified by Golgi impregnation were examined with a light microscope. Counts of visible spines were performed along the secondary and tertiary branches of both the apical dendrites and the basal dendrites, which are the sites of intracortical synaptic inputs. An estimate of the true spine density was obtained using Feldman and Peters' method (1979, The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 188, 527-542). The estimated true spine density along apical dendrites was higher in neurons from trained rats than those in pseudotrained and naive rats by 15%. As length of spiny dendrites did not change significantly after learning, the learning-related increase in spine density in neurons from trained rats may indicate on an increased number of excitatory synapses interconnecting pyramidal neurons in the piriform cortex, following olfactory learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-638
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Dendritic spines
  • Golgi method
  • Learning
  • Olfactory cortex
  • Synapses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)

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