We used neural ensemble recording to examine odor-evoked ensemble patterns in the moth antennal (olfactory) lobe. Different odors are thought to evoke unique spatiotemporal patterns of glomerular activity, but little is known about the population dynamics underlying formation of these patterns. Using a silicon multielectrode array, we observed dynamic network interactions within and between glomeruli. Whereas brief odor pulses repeatedly triggered activity in the same coding ensemble, the temporal pattern of synchronous activity superimposed on the ensemble was neither oscillatory nor odor specific. Rather, synchrony strongly depended on contextual variables such as odor intensity and intermittency. Also, because of emergent inhibitory circuit interactions, odor blends evoked temporal ensemble patterns that could not be predicted from the responses to the individual odorants. Thus even at this early stage of information processing, the timing of odor-evoked neural representations is modulated by key stimulus factors unrelated to the molecular identity of the odor.
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