NMDA spikes mediate amplification of inputs in the rat piriform cortex

Amit Kumar, Oded Schiff, Edi Barkai, Bartlett W. Mel, Alon Poleg-Polsky, Jackie Schiller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The piriform cortex (PCx) receives direct input from the olfactory bulb (OB) and is the brain’s main station for odor recognition and memory. The transformation of the odor code from OB to PCx is profound: mitral and tufted cells in olfactory glomeruli respond to individual odorant molecules, whereas pyramidal neurons (PNs) in the PCx responds to multiple, apparently random combinations of activated glomeruli. How these ‘discontinuous’ receptive fields are formed from OB inputs remains unknown. Counter to the prevailing view that olfactory PNs sum their inputs passively, we show for the first time that NMDA spikes within individual dendrites can both amplify OB inputs and impose combination selectivity upon them, while their ability to compartmentalize voltage signals allows different dendrites to represent different odorant combinations. Thus, the 2-layer integrative behavior of olfactory PN dendrites provides a parsimonious account for the nonlinear remapping of the odor code from bulb to cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere38446
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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