This is one of the core projects and interests of the lab:  how do neuromodulatory chemicals, released into the olfactory system, alter the functional circuitry of the system?

For example, the first two central structures of the olfactory system – the olfactory bulb (OB) and piriform cortex – both are innervated by a common basal forebrain cholinergic nucleus that projects almost exclusively to olfactory structures:  the horizontal limb of the diagonal band of Broca (HDB).  How, mechanistically speaking, does the cholinergic modulation of multiple classes of acetylcholine-sensitive neurons embedded within the circuitry of these two linked structures combine to generate coherent functional outcomes at a systems/behavioral level of analysis?  Conversely, in what behavioral contexts is the HDB normally activated so as to release acetylcholine into the OB and piriform cortex?  We are studying both of these problems using behavioral pharmacology, in vivo recordings, slice recordings on planar multielectrode arrays, and computational modeling.

Parallel projects in the lab are asking analogous questions of noradrenergic and serotonergic neuromodulation in olfactory bulb.

  • Cholinergic modulation of perceptual acuity
  • Muscarinic cholinergic regulation of intrinsic learning
  • Recordings from the HDB during awake/behaving task performance
  • Noradrenergic regulation of signal-to-noise ratios, and of intrinsic learning
  • Serotonergic effects in adult olfactory bulb