Processing smells to elicit emotions

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Science  09 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6257, pp. 174-175
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6257.174-b

The amygdala is a brain region that plays an important role in emotions. Emotional processes in rodents depend heavily on olfaction. Mice transmit olfactory cues through two separate pathways, the main and the accessory olfactory systems. These pathways detect odors and nonvolatile chemosignals, respectively. Keshavarzi et al. studied the responses of principal neurons in the medial amygdala. These neurons received convergent inputs from both olfactory pathways. However, their synapses were located on different parts of the dendritic tree. Compared to main olfactory system inputs, accessory olfactory inputs projected more onto the distal dendritic arbor and showed a broader summation and a higher output gain. Neurons in the medial amygdala thus process main and accessory olfactory information differently.

J. Neurosci. 35, 13020 (2015).

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