Functional ultrasound imaging reveals different odor-evoked patterns of vascular activity in the main olfactory bulb and the anterior piriform cortex

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Topographic representation of the outside world is a key feature of sensory systems, but so far it has been difficult to define how the activity pattern of the olfactory information is distributed at successive stages in the olfactory system. We studied odor-evoked activation patterns in the main olfactory bulb and the anterior piriform cortex of rats using functional ultrasound (fUS) imaging. fUS imaging is based on the use of ultrafast ultrasound scanners and detects variations in the local blood volume during brain activation. It makes deep brain imaging of ventral structures, such as the piriform cortex, possible. Stimulation with two different odors (hexanal and pentylacetate) induced the activation of odor-specific zones that were spatially segregated in the main olfactory bulb. Interestingly, the same odorants triggered the activation of the entire anterior piriform cortex, in all layers, with no distinguishable odor-specific areas detected in the power Doppler images. These fUS imaging results confirm the spatial distribution of odor-evoked activity in the main olfactory bulb, and furthermore, they reveal the absence of such a distribution in the anterior piriform cortex at the macroscopic scale in vivo.

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