Although primary olfactory systems in various animals display spontaneous oscillatory activity, its functional significance in olfactory processing has not been elucidated. The tentacular ganglion, the primary olfactory system of the terrestrial slug Limax marginatus, also displays spontaneous oscillatory activity at 1-2 Hz. In the present study, we examined the relationship between odor-evoked spike activity and spontaneous field potential oscillations in the tentacular nerve, representing the pathway from the primary olfactory system to the olfactory center. Neural activity was recorded from the tentacular nerve before, during and after application of various odors (garlic, carrot, and rat chow) to the sensory epithelium and the changes in firing rate and spontaneous oscillations were analyzed. We detected the baseline amplitude of the oscillations and baseline spike activity before stimulation. Odor stimulations for 20 s or 60 s evoked a transient increase in the firing rate followed by a decrease in the amplitude of spontaneous oscillations. The decrease in the amplitude was larger in the first 8 s of stimulation and subsequently showed recovery during stimulation. The amplitude of the recovered oscillations often fluctuated. Odor-evoked spikes appeared when the amplitude of the recovered oscillations was transiently small. These results suggest that the large oscillations could inhibit spike activity whereas the first transient increase in spike activity was followed by the decrease in the oscillation amplitude. Our results indicate that there is a significant negative correlation between spontaneous oscillations and odor-evoked spike activity, suggesting that the spontaneous oscillations contribute to the olfactory processing in slugs.
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