Abstract. Odors are transported by turbulent air currents, creating complex temporal fluctuations in odor concentration that provide a potentially informative stimulus dimension. We have shown that mice are able to discriminate odor stimuli based on their temporal structure, indicating that information contained in the temporal structure of odor plumes can be extracted by the mouse olfactory system. Here, using in vivo extracellular and intracellular electrophysiological recordings, we show that mitral cells (MCs) and tufted cells (TCs) of the male C57BL/6 mouse olfactory bulb can encode the dominant temporal frequencies present in odor stimuli up to at least 20 Hz. A substantial population of cell-odor pairs showed significant coupling of their subthreshold membrane potential with the odor stimulus at both 2 Hz (29/70) and the suprasniff frequency 20 Hz (24/70). Furthermore, mitral/tufted cells (M/TCs) show differential coupling of their membrane potential to odor concentration fluctuations with tufted cells coupling more strongly for the 20 Hz stimulation. Frequency coupling was always observed to be invariant to odor identity, and M/TCs that coupled well to a mixture also coupled to at least one of the components of the mixture. Interestingly, pharmacological blocking of the inhibitory circuitry strongly modulated frequency coupling of cell-odor pairs at both 2 Hz (10/15) and 20 Hz (9/15). These results provide insight into how both cellular and circuit properties contribute to the encoding of temporal odor features in the mouse olfactory bulb.

Authors. Debanjan Dasgupta, Tom P A Warner, Andrew Erskine, Andreas T Schaefer