Processing of sensory signals in the olfactory bulb

Olfactory bulb is the part of the CNS where the first stage of olfactory pro­cess­ing occurs. The input signal is pro­vided by ol­factory receptor neu­rons syn­aps­ing on principal mitral/tufted neu­rons of the bulb and on local interneu­rons. In rodents, olfactory bulb interneu­rons amount to 1.3 millions of cells thus rep­resent­ing one of the largest cellular popu­lations in the mammalian brain. Inter­est­ingly, these interneu­rons under­go turnover through­out the entire life of the ani­mal. Their precursors are generated in the lat­eral walls of the forebrain lat­eral ventricles, the richest source of adult stem cells with­in the brain. A large fraction of these adult-born cells are dopam­iner­gic and as such they rep­resent a po­tential thera­peutic tar­get for Parkin­son’s disease.

By combining electrophys­io­logical, optical and molec­ular-bio­logical techniques we aim at under­standing in vivo functional prop­er­ties of local interneu­rons and their role for pro­cess­ing sensory information in the olfactory bulb.