Oscillations and gaseous oxides in invertebrate olfaction

A. Gelperin, D. Kleinfeld, W. Denk, I. R.C. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Olfactory systems combine an extraordinary molecular sensitivity with robust synaptic plasticity. Central neuronal circuits that perform pattern recognition in olfaction typically discriminate between hundreds of molecular species and form associations between odor onsets and behavioral contingencies that can last a lifetime. Two design features in the olfactory system of the terrestrial mollusk Limax maximus may be common elements of olfactory systems that display the twin features of broad molecular sensitivity and rapid odor learning: spatially coherent oscillations in the second-order circuitry that receives sensory input; and involvement of the interneuronal messengers nitric oxide (NO) and carbon monoxide (CO) in sensory responses and circuit dynamics of the oscillating olfactory network. The principal odor processing center in Limax, the procerebrum (PC) of the cerebral ganglion, contains on the order of 105 local interneurons and receives both direct and processed input from olfactory receptors. Field potential recordings in the PC show an oscillation at approximately 0.7 Hz that is altered by odor input. Optical recordings of voltage changes in local regions of the PC show waves of depolarization that originate at the distal pole and propagate to the base of the PC. Weak odor stimulation transiently switches PC activity from a propagating mode to a spatially uniform mode. The field potential oscillation in the PC lobe depends on intercellular communication via NO, based on opposing effects of reagents that decrease or increase NO levels in the PC. Inhibition of NO synthase slows the field potential oscillation, while application of exogenous NO increases the oscillation frequency. A role for CO in PC dynamics is suggested by experiments in which CO liberation increases the PC oscillation frequency. These design features of the Limax PC lobe odor processing circuitry may relate to synaptic plasticity that subserves both connection of new receptors throughout the life of the slug and its highly developed odor learning ability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-122
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • General Neuroscience


  • caged CO
  • caged NO
  • electrical waves
  • in vivo recording
  • learning
  • neuronal modeling
  • synaptic plasticity
  • two-photon imaging
  • voltage-sensitive dyes


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