Functional Plasticity of Odor Representations during Motherhood

Amit Vinograd, Yael Fuchs-Shlomai, Merav Stern, Diptendu Mukherjee, Yuan Gao, Ami Citri, Ian Davison, Adi Mizrahi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Motherhood is accompanied by new behaviors aimed at ensuring the wellbeing of the offspring. Olfaction plays a key role in guiding maternal behaviors during this transition. We studied functional changes in the main olfactory bulb (OB) of mothers in mice. Using in vivo two-photon calcium imaging, we studied the sensory representation of odors by mitral cells (MCs). We show that MC responses to monomolecular odors become sparser and weaker in mothers. In contrast, responses to biologically relevant odors are spared from sparsening or strengthen. MC responses to mixtures and to a range of concentrations suggest that these differences between odor responses cannot be accounted for by mixture suppressive effects or gain control mechanisms. In vitro whole-cell recordings show an increase in inhibitory synaptic drive onto MCs. The increase of inhibitory tone may contribute to the general decrease in responsiveness and concomitant enhanced representation of specific odors. Motherhood is associated with changes in neural circuits that affect how the mother senses her surroundings. Vinograd et al. show that the olfactory bulb is a locus of plasticity. Output neurons of the bulb have elevated inhibition, and odor coding of natural odors is improved.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)351-365
Number of pages15
JournalCell Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - 10 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the members of the Mizrahi laboratory, Liqun Luo, Lior Cohen, Ran Darshan, and Yoram Burak for comments and discussions on early versions of this manuscript. This work was supported by a consolidator grant from the European Research Council ( 616063 to A.M.), the Gatsby Charitable Foundation , the Max Planck Hebrew University Center for Sensory Processing of the Brain in Action , the I-CORE Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee ( #1796/12 ), and Israel Science Foundation Grant 393/12 (to A.C.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors


  • calcium imaging
  • inhibition
  • mitral cells
  • motherhood
  • olfaction
  • plasticity
  • two-photon


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