Reliable sex and strain discrimination in the mouse vomeronasal organ and accessory olfactory bulb

Illya I. Tolokh, Xiaoyan Fu, Timothy E. Holy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Animals modulate their courtship and territorial behaviors in response to olfactory cues produced by other animals. In Rodents, detecting these cuesis the primary role of the accessory olfactory system (AOS).We sought to systematically investigate the natural stimulus coding logic and robustness in neurons of the first two stages of accessory olfactory processing, the vomeronasal organ (VNO) and accessory olfactory bulb (AOB). We show that firing rate responses of just a few well-chosen mouse VNO or AOB neurons can be used to reliably encode both sex and strain of other mice from cues contained in urine. Additionally, we show that this population code can generalize to new concentrations of stimuli and appear store present stimulus identity in terms of diverging paths in coding space. Together, the results indicate that firing rate code on the temporal order of seconds is sufficient for accurate classification of pheromonal patterns at different concentrations and may be used by AOS neural circuitry to discriminate among naturally occurring urine stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13903-13913
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume33
Issue number34
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

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