Reduced synaptic facilitation between pyramidal neurons in the piriform cortex after odor learning

Drorit Saar, Yoram Grossman, Edi Barkai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Learning-related cellular modifications were studied in the rat piriform cortex after operand conditioning. Rats were trained to discriminate positive cues in pairs of odors. In one experimental paradigm, rats were trained to memorize 35-50 pairs of odors ('extensive training'). In another paradigm, training was continued only until rats acquired the rule of the task, usually after learning the first two pairs of odors ('short training'). 'Pseudotrained' and 'naive' rats served as controls. We have previously shown that 'rule learning' of this task was accompanied by reduced spike afterhyperpolarization in pyramidal neurons in brain slices of the piriform cortex. In the present study, synaptic inputs to the same cells were examined. Pairs of electrical stimuli applied to the intrinsic fibers that interconnect layer II pyramidal neurons revealed significant reduction in paired-pulse facilitation (PPF) in this pathway even after short training. PPF in shortly trained rats was reduced to the same extent as in extensively trained rats. PPF reduction did not result from modification of membrane properties in the postsynaptic cells, change in postsynaptic inhibition, or impairment of the facilitation mechanism. Extracellular field potential recordings showed enhanced synaptic transmission in these synapses. The reduction in PPF became apparent only 3 d after task acquisition and returned to control value 5 d later. PPF evoked by stimulating the afferent fibers to the same neurons was increased 1 d after training for 2 d. We suggest that the transient enhancement in connectivity in the intrinsic pathway is related to the enhanced learning capability and not to memory for specific odors, which lasts for weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8616-8622
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1 Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Odor learning
  • Operand conditioning
  • Paired-pulse facilitation
  • Piriform cortex
  • Pyramidal neurons
  • Synaptic enhancement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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