Membrane and synaptic properties of pyramidal neurons in the anterior olfactory nucleus

Matthew J. McGinley, Gary L. Westbrook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The anterior olfactory nucleus (AON) is positioned to coordinate activity between the piriform cortex and olfactory bulbs, yet the physiology of AON principal neurons has been little explored. Here, we examined the membrane properties and excitatory synapses of AON principal neurons in brain slices of PND22-28 mice and compared their properties to principal cells in other olfactory cortical areas. AON principal neurons had firing rates, spike rate adaptation, spike widths, and I-V relationships that were generally similar to pyramidal neurons in piriform cortex, and typical of cerebral cortex, consistent with a role for AON in cortical processing. Principal neurons in AON had more hyperpolarized action potential thresholds, smaller afterhyperpolarizations, and tended to fire doublets of action potentials on depolarization compared with ventral anterior piriform cortex and the adjacent epileptogenic region preendopiriform nucleus (pEN). Thus, AON pyramidal neurons have enhanced membrane excitability compared with surrounding subregions. Interestingly, principal neurons in pEN were the least excitable, as measured by a larger input conductance, lower firing rates, and more inward rectification. Afferent and recurrent excitatory synapses onto AON pyramidal neurons had small amplitudes, paired pulse facilitation at afferent synapses, and GABAB modulation at recurrent synapses, a pattern similar to piriform cortex. The enhanced membrane excitability and recurrent synaptic excitation within the AON, together with its widespread outputs, suggest that the AON can boost and distribute activity in feedforward and feedback circuits throughout the olfactory system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1444-1453
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Afterhyperpolarization
  • Area tempestas
  • Cable properties
  • Inward rectifying potassium channels
  • Piriform cortex
  • Preendopiriform nucleus
  • Pyramidal neuron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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