Changes in olfactory sensory neuron physiology and olfactory perceptual learning after odorant exposure in adult mice

Marley D. Kass, Stephanie A. Guang, Andrew H. Moberly, John P. McGann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The adult olfactory system undergoes experience-dependent plasticity to adapt to the olfactory environment. This plasticity may be accompanied by perceptual changes, including improved olfactory discrimination. Here, we assessed experience-dependent changes in the perception of a homologous aldehyde pair by testing mice in a cross-habituation/dishabituation behavioral paradigm before and after a week-long ester-odorant exposure protocol. In a parallel experiment, we used optical neurophysiology to observe neurotransmitter release from olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) terminals in vivo, and thus compared primary sensory representations of the aldehydes before and after the week-long ester-odorant exposure in individual animals. Mice could not discriminate between the aldehydes during pre-exposure testing, but ester-exposed subjects spontaneously discriminated between the homologous pair after exposure, whereas home cage control mice cross-habituated. Ester exposure did not alter the spatial pattern, peak magnitude, or odorant-selectivity of aldehyde-evoked OSN input to olfactory bulb glomeruli, but did alter the temporal dynamics of that input to make the time course of OSN input more dissimilar between odorants. Together, these findings demonstrate that odor exposure can induce both physiological and perceptual changes in odor processing, and suggest that changes in the temporal patterns of OSN input to olfactory bulb glomeruli could induce differences in odor quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
JournalChemical senses
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Odorant exposure
  • Olfactory sensory neuron
  • Optical imaging
  • Perceptual learning
  • Sensory enrichment
  • SynaptopHluorin


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