Social communication is crucial for survival of many species. In most vertebrates, a dedicated chemosensory system, the vomeronasal system (VNS), evolved to process ethologically relevant chemosensory cues. The first central processing stage of the VNS is the accessory olfactory bulb (AOB), which sends information to downstream brain regions via AOB mitral cells (AMCs). Recent studies provided important insights about the functional properties of AMCs, but little is known about the principles that govern their coordinated activity. Here, we recorded local field potentials (LFPs) and single-unit activity in the AOB of adult male and female mice during presentation of natural stimuli. Our recordings reveal prominent LFP theta band oscillatory episodes with a characteristic spatial pattern across the AOB. Throughout an experiment, the AOB network shows varying degrees of similarity to this pattern, in a manner that depends on the sensory stimulus. Analysis of LFP signal polarity and single-unit activity indicate that oscillatory episodes are generated locally within the AOB, likely representing a reciprocal interaction between AMCs and granule cells. Notably, spike times of many AMCs are constrained to the negative LFP oscillation phase, in a manner that can drastically affect integration by downstream processing stages. Based on these observations, we propose that LFP oscillations may gate, bind, and organize outgoing signals from individual AOB neurons to downstream processing stages. Our findings suggest that, as in other neuronal systems and brain regions, population level oscillations play a key role in organizing and enhancing transmission of socially relevant chemosensory information.
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