211 | Acquisition of non-olfactory encoding improves odor discrimination in olfactory cortex

Neural Circuits and Systems Neuroscience

Author: Noel Federman | Email: noelfederman@gmail.com

Noel Federman , Sebastian A. Romano , Macarena Amigo-Duran , Lucca Salomon , Antonia Marin-Burgin

1° Instituto de Investigación en Biomedicina de Buenos Aires (IBioBA)-CONICET-Partner Institute of the Max Planck Society; Godoy Cruz 2390, C1425FQD, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Olfaction is influenced by contextual factors, past experiences, and the animal’s internal state. Whether these information is integrated at the initial stages of cortical odour processing is not known, nor how these signals may influence odour encoding. Here we revealed multiple and diverse non-olfactory responses in the primary olfactory (piriform) cortex (PCx), which dynamically enhance PCx odour discrimination according to behavioural demands. We performed recordings of PCx neurons from mice trained in a virtual reality to associate odours with visual contexts to obtain a reward. We found that learning shifts PCx activity from encoding solely odours to a regime in which positional, contextual, and associative responses emerge on odour-responsive neurons that become mixed-selective. The modulation of PCx activity by these non-olfactory signals was dynamic, improving odour decoding during task engagement and in rewarded contexts. This improvement relied on the acquired mixed-selectivity, demonstrating how integrating extra-sensory inputs in sensory cortices can enhance sensory processing while encoding the behavioural relevance of stimuli.