The accessory olfactory system: Innately specialized or microcosm of mammalian circuitry?

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Abstract

In mammals, the accessory olfactory system is a distinct circuit that has received attention for its role in detecting and responding to pheromones. While the neuroscientific investigation of this system is comparatively new, recent advances and its compact size have made it an attractive model for developing an end-to-end understanding of such questions as regulation of essential behaviors, plasticity, and individual recognition. Recent discoveries have indicated a need to reevaluate our conception of this system, suggesting that (a) physical principles - rather than biological necessity - play an underappreciated role in its raison d'être and that (b) the anatomy of downstream projections is not dominated by unique specializations but instead consists of an abbreviated cortical/basal ganglia motif reminiscent of other sensorimotor systems. These observations suggest that the accessory olfactory system distinguishes itself primarily by the physicochemical properties of its ligands, but its architecture is otherwise a microcosm of mammalian neurocircuitry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-525
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Neuroscience
Volume41
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 8 2018

Keywords

  • hypothalamus
  • innate behavior
  • pallidum
  • sensory processing
  • striatum
  • volatility

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