Changes in the sensory processing of olfactory signals induced by birth in sleep

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Science  08 May 1992:
Vol. 256, Issue 5058, pp. 833-836
DOI: 10.1126/science.256.5058.833


After giving birth, sheep and many other species form a selective bond with their offspring based on the sense of smell. Processing of olfactory signals is altered to allow the animals to perform this selective recognition. Lamb odors have little effect on either neurotransmitter release or electrical activity of neurons in the olfactory bulb before birth. However, after birth there is an increase in the number of mitral cells, the principal cells of the olfactory bulb, that respond to lamb odors, which is associated with increased cholinergic and noradrenergic neurotransmitter release. Selective recognition of lambs is accompanied by increased activity of a subset of mitral cells and release of glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) from the dendrodendritic synapses between the mitral and granule cells. The relation between the release of each transmitter after birth also suggests an increased efficacy of glutamate-evoked GABA release.