NIH Research Festival
The mammalian olfactory bulb (OB) contains a pair of bilateral sensory maps on its surface that are linked through a set of intrabulbar projections which connect isofunctional regions of the OB to yield precision in olfactory sensation. Refinement of OB circuitry is highly dependent upon sensory induced activity during the first postnatal weeks and the system maintains a high level of activity-dependent plasticity throughout adulthood. Interestingly, the OB also undergoes continuous regeneration; new neuroblasts from the subventricular zone enter the OB throughout an animal’s lifetime. A recent study showed that the supply of adult born neurons plays a critical role in maintaining circuit organization within the OB, but the functions of these neurons remain unclear. Using pharmacogenetic techniques, we can conditionally and selectively ablate new neurons entering the OB in adult transgenic mice and examine the functional consequences through a combined electrophysiological and behavioral paradigm. This will help us understand the role of adult born neurons in olfactory function while providing valuable insight into how environmental factors and neuronal regeneration broadly affect sensory plasticity in adulthood.
Scientific Focus Area: Neuroscience
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