Functional Plasticity of Odor Representations during Motherhood

Summary Motherhood is accompanied by new behaviors aimed at ensuring the wellbeing of the offspring. Olfaction plays a key role in guiding maternal behaviors during this transition. We studied functional changes in the main olfactory bulb (OB) of mothers in mice. Using in vivo two-photon calcium imaging, we studied the sensory representation of odors by mitral cells (MCs). We show that MC responses to monomolecular odors become sparser and weaker in mothers. In contrast, responses to biologically relevant odors are spared from sparsening or strengthen. MC responses to mixtures and to a range of concentrations suggest that these differences between odor responses cannot be accounted for by mixture suppressive effects or gain control mechanisms. In vitro whole-cell recordings show an increase in inhibitory synaptic drive onto MCs. The increase of inhibitory tone may contribute to the general decrease in responsiveness and concomitant enhanced representation of specific odors.

Authors: Vinograd A, Fuchs-Shlomai Y, Stern M, Mukherjee D, Gao Y, Citri A, Davison I, Mizrahi A.
Year of publication: 2017
Journal: Cell Reports 21(2):351-365

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