Saturday, October 10, 2009

Learning about Odors Requires Generating New Neurons

Olfactory perceptual learning requires adult neurogenesis in PNAS
Perceptual learning is required for olfactory function to adapt appropriately to changing odor environments. We here show that newborn neurons in the olfactory bulb are not only involved in, but necessary for, olfactory perceptual learning. First, the discrimination of perceptually similar odorants improves in mice after repeated exposure to the odorants. Second, this improved discrimination is accompanied by an elevated survival rate of newborn inhibitory neurons, preferentially involved in processing of the learned odor, within the olfactory bulb. Finally, blocking neurogenesis before and during the odorant exposure period prevents this learned improvement in discrimination. Olfactory perceptual learning is thus mediated by the reinforcement of functional inhibition in the olfactory bulb by adult neurogenesis.

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