The Big Picture
I study how the neural circuits of the rodent olfactory system process sensory information and how this processing is modulated by behavioral state
The Olfactory Bulb (OB) receives direct input from the chemoreceptors in the nose and processes this information with a multilayered network of neurons. This network supports oscillations in the collective electrical activity of many neurons, refereed to as the Local Field Potential (LFP), which may drive the formation of olfactory memory associations when convergent OB output is relayed onto neurons in the Pyriform Cortex (PC). At the same time, the OB is also innervated with feedback projections from the PC which have been shown to modulate the characteristics of these oscillations. I use a computational model of the coupled OB-PC network to investigate how such oscillations are generated under a variety of feedback conditions that are difficult to achieve through in vivo manipulation. I also record neural activity in awake behaving rats to investigate the relationship between the spikes of individual neurons and the LFP, and to discern how this relationship evolves when the animal learns an olfactory discrimination task. Taken together, my modeling and experimental work investigates how feedback dependent oscillations in the OB are generated and what function these oscillations play in real time olfactory sensory processing.