Cortical processing of sensory information plays a critical role in sensory discrimination, object recognition and memory. Cortical sensory processing has been shown to be highly dynamic, with past experience, current context and expectations shaping how the world is perceived on a moment by moment basis. Disorders of sensory processing constitute a major component of impairments induced by CNS disease and aging, as well as congenital disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. In the olfactory system, features of odorant molecules and mixtures are believed to be extracted by a large family of olfactory receptor proteins at the receptor sheet, and further defined by synaptic processing with the olfactory bulb. Current views of olfactory function suggest that re- assembly of these features into perceptual odor wholes is performed largely by circuits in the primary olfactory cortex. Work completed during the past funding period of this award provided evidence that odor encoding by piriform cortical neurons is highly dynamic, and appears to be consistent with the experience-dependent synthetic role proposed for this cortex. In addition, evidence was obtained suggesting that anterior piriform cortex neural ensembles encode odor identity, while posterior piriform cortical ensembles encode odor quality. Experience-dependent object encoding and perception in neocortical sensory systems is heavily dependent on intrinsic, intracortical association fibers. A similar, highly plastic intrinsic association system exists in the piriform cortex, and in fact dominates dendritic trees in posterior piriform compared to anterior. The present proposal examines the role of the piriform cortical intrinsic fiber system in odor encoding and perception using single-unit, multiple single-unit and behavioral techniques.
Aim 1 proposes to parametrically examine how needs for a balance between pattern completion (generalization between slight variance within an otherwise constant stimulus) and pattern separation (discrimination of similar odors) are met in piriform cortex and translated to behavior, Aim 2 proposes to further examine the effects of experience on pattern completion and separation in anterior and posterior piriform cortex, and Aim 3 proposes to examine odor experience-induced plasticity of intrinsic cortical connections and their role of cortical ensemble formation and odor discrimination. Information processing by cortical networks is critical for normal sensory perception, memory, and motor responses to the environment. Understanding how information is entered into, and analyzed by these networks will have a fundamental impact on our ability to interpret and treat disorders of these basic cognitive functions. This proposal takes advantage of the relatively simple organization of the olfactory system and its robust plasticity to examine how sensory experience modifies cortical circuit function.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Somatosensory and Chemosensory Systems Study Section (SCS)
Program Officer
Sullivan, Susan L
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
New York University
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
Zip Code
Cohen, Yaniv; Wilson, Donald A; Barkai, Edi (2015) Differential modifications of synaptic weights during odor rule learning: dynamics of interaction between the piriform cortex with lower and higher brain areas. Cereb Cortex 25:180-91
Barnes, Dylan C; Wilson, Donald A (2014) Slow-wave sleep-imposed replay modulates both strength and precision of memory. J Neurosci 34:5134-42
Wilson, Donald A; Xu, Wenjin; Sadrian, Benjamin et al. (2014) Cortical odor processing in health and disease. Prog Brain Res 208:275-305
Sadrian, B; Lopez-Guzman, M; Wilson, D A et al. (2014) Distinct neurobehavioral dysfunction based on the timing of developmental binge-like alcohol exposure. Neuroscience 280:204-19
Courtiol, Emmanuelle; Wilson, Donald A (2014) Thalamic olfaction: characterizing odor processing in the mediodorsal thalamus of the rat. J Neurophysiol 111:1274-85
Wesson, Daniel W; Morales-Corraliza, Jose; Mazzella, Matthew J et al. (2013) Chronic anti-murine Aýý immunization preserves odor guided behaviors in an Alzheimer's ýý-amyloidosis model. Behav Brain Res 237:96-102
Morales-Corraliza, Jose; Schmidt, Stephen D; Mazzella, Matthew J et al. (2013) Immunization targeting a minor plaque constituent clears *-amyloid and rescues behavioral deficits in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model. Neurobiol Aging 34:137-45
Chapuis, Julie; Cohen, Yaniv; He, Xiaobin et al. (2013) Lateral entorhinal modulation of piriform cortical activity and fine odor discrimination. J Neurosci 33:13449-59
Chapuis, Julie; Wilson, Donald A (2013) Cholinergic modulation of olfactory pattern separation. Neurosci Lett 545:50-3
Sadrian, Benjamin; Wilson, Donald A; Saito, Mariko (2013) Long-lasting neural circuit dysfunction following developmental ethanol exposure. Brain Sci 3:704-27

Showing the most recent 10 out of 64 publications