New neurons are continuously generated in the adult brain through a process called adult neurogenesis. This form of plasticity has been correlated with numerous behavioral and cognitive phenomena, but it remains unclear if and how adult-born neurons (abNs) contribute to mature neural circuits. We established a highly specific and efficient experimental system to target abNs for causal manipulations. Using this system with chemogenetics and imaging, we found that abNs effectively sharpen mitral cells (MCs) tuning and improve their power to discriminate among odors. The effects on MCs responses peaked when abNs were young and decreased as they matured. To explain the mechanism of our observations, we simulated the olfactory bulb circuit by modelling the incorporation of abNs into the circuit. We show that higher excitability and broad input connectivity, two well-characterized features of young neurons, underlie their unique ability to boost circuit computation.
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© 2020, The Author(s).