Beyond the olfactory bulb: an odotopic map in the forebrain

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We report electrophysiological evidence that a simple odotopy, the spatial mapping of different odorants, is maintained above the level of the olfactory bulb (OB). Three classes of biologically relevant odorants for fish are processed in distinct regions of the forebrain (FB) in the channel catfish. Feeding cues, mainly amino acids and nucleotides, are represented in lateral, pallial portions of the FB, equivalent to the olfactory cortex of amniote vertebrates, whereas social signals mediated by bile salts are represented in medial FB centers, possibly homologous to portions of the amygdala. As in the OB, the different odorant classes map onto different territories; however, the response properties of units of the olfactory areas of the FB do not simply mirror those of the OB. For some units, distinctive response properties emerged, because the FB is the first center where odors subserving a common behavioral function (i.e., food function) converge.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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