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Habituation is a form of non-associative memory that plays an important role in filtering stable or redundant inputs. The present study examines the contribution of habituation and cortical adaptation to odor-background segmentation. Segmentation of target odorants from background odorants is a fundamental computational requirement for the olfactory system. Recent electrophysiological data have shown that odor specific adaptation in piriform cortex neurons, mediated at least partially by synaptic adaptation between the olfactory bulb outputs and piriform cortex pyramidal cells, may provide an ideal mechanism for odor-background segmentation. This rapid synaptic adaptation acts as a filter to enhance cortical responsiveness to changing stimuli, while reducing responsiveness to static, potentially background stimuli. Using previously developed computational models of the olfactory system, we here show how synaptic adaptation at the olfactory bulb input to the piriform cortex, as demonstrated electrophysiologically, creates odor specific adaptation. We show how this known feature of olfactory cortical processing can contribute to adaptation to a background odor and to odor-background segmentation. We then show in a behavioral experiment that the odor-background segmentation is perceptually important and functions at the same time-scale as the synaptic adaptation observed between the olfactory bulb and cortex.

Original publication




Journal article


Neurobiol Learn Mem

Publication Date





352 - 360


Adaptation, Physiological, Algorithms, Animals, Computational Biology, Discrimination Learning, Field Dependence-Independence, Neural Networks (Computer), Olfactory Bulb, Olfactory Pathways, Olfactory Receptor Neurons, Parahippocampal Gyrus, Rats, Rats, Long-Evans, Signal Transduction, Smell, Synaptic Transmission