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Beta and gamma oscillatory activities associated with olfactory memory tasks: Different rhythms for different functional networks?

DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00218

Keywords: odor learning, beta and gamma oscillations, Behavior, Olfactory Bulb, piriform cortex

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Abstract:

Olfactory processing in behaving animals, even at early stages, is inextricable from top down influences associated with odor perception. The anatomy of the olfactory network (olfactory bulb, piriform and entorhinal cortices) and its unique direct access to the limbic system makes it particularly attractive to study how sensory processing could be modulated by learning and memory. Moreover, olfactory structures have been early reported to exhibit oscillatory population activities easy to capture through local field potential recordings. An attractive hypothesis is that neuronal oscillations would serve to ‘bind’ distant structures to reach a unified and coherent perception. In relation to this hypothesis, we will assess the functional relevance of different types of oscillatory activity observed in the olfactory system of behaving animals. This review will focus primarily on two types of oscillatory activities: beta (15-40 Hz) and gamma (60-100 Hz). While gamma oscillations are dominant in the olfactory system in the absence of odorant, both beta and gamma rhythms have been reported to be modulated depending on the nature of the olfactory task. Studies from the authors of the present review and other groups brought evidence for a link between these oscillations and behavioral changes induced by olfactory learning. However, differences in studies led to divergent interpretations concerning the respective role of these oscillations in olfactory processing. Based on a critical reexamination of those data, we propose hypotheses on the functional involvement of beta and gamma oscillations for odor perception and memory.

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