Sensory systems balance stability and plasticity to optimize stimulus representations in dynamic environments. We studied these processes in the olfactory system of adult zebrafish. Activity patterns evoked by repeated odor stimulation were measured by multiphoton calcium imaging in the olfactory bulb (OB) and in telencephalic area Dp, the homolog of olfactory cortex. Whereas odor responses in the OB were highly reproducible, responses of Dp neurons adapted over trials and exhibited substantial variability that could be attributed to ongoing activity and to systematic changes in neuronal representations following each stimulus. An NMDA receptor antagonist did not affect the magnitude of odor responses but strongly reduced the variability and experience-dependent modification of odor responses in Dp. As a consequence, odor representations became stable over trials. These results demonstrate that odor representations in higher brain areas are continuously modified by experience, supporting the view that olfactory processing is inseparable from memory, even in the absence of reinforcement.
Current Biology – Elsevier
Published: Jan 8, 2018
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