Sparse odor coding in awake behaving mice

Dmitry Rinberg, Alex Koulakov, Alan Gelperin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

213 Scopus citations


Responses of mitral cells represent the results of the first stage of odor processing in the olfactory bulb. Most of our knowledge about mitral cell activity has been obtained from recordings in anesthetized animals. We compared odor-elicited changes in firing rate of mitral cells in awake behaving mice and in anesthetized mice. We show that odor-elicited changes in mitral cell firing rate were larger and more frequently observed in the anesthetized than in the awake condition. Only 27% of mitral cells that showed a response to odors in the anesthetized state were also odor responsive in the awake state. The amplitude of their response in the awake state was smaller, and some of the responses changed sign compared with their responses in the anesthetized state. The odor representation in the olfactory bulb is therefore sparser in awake behaving mice than in anesthetized preparations. A qualitative explanation of the mechanism responsible for this phenomenon is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8857-8865
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number34
StatePublished - Aug 23 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • Anesthesia
  • Extracellular recordings
  • Mitral cell
  • Olfactory bulb
  • Olfactory code
  • in vivo recording


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