Experience-dependent modification of primary sensory synapses in the mammalian olfactory bulb

William Tyler, Gabor C. Petzold, Sumon K. Pal, Venkatesh N. Murthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Experience-dependent changes in neural circuits have traditionally been investigated several synapses downstream of sensory input. Whether experience can alter the strength of primary sensory synapses remains mostly unknown. To address this issue, we investigated the consequences of odor deprivation on synapses made by olfactory sensory axons in the olfactory bulb of rats. Odor deprivation triggered an increase in the probability of glutamate release from olfactory sensory neuron synapses. Deprivation also increased the amplitude of quantal synaptic currents mediated by AMPA- and NMDA-type glutamate receptors, as well as the abundance of these receptors in the glomerular region. Our results demonstrate that sensory experience is capable of modulating synaptic strength at the earliest stages of information transfer between the environment and an organism. Such compensatory experience-dependent changes may represent a mechanism of sensory gain control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9427-9438
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number35
StatePublished - Aug 29 2007


  • Compensatory plasticity
  • Glomerulus
  • Odor deprivation
  • Olfactory bulb
  • Olfactory sensory axon
  • Sensory scaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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