Responses of olfactory forebrain units to amino acids in the channel catfish

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A paucity of information exists concerning the processing of odorant information by single neurons in any vertebrate above the level of the olfactory bulb (OB). In this report, odorant specificity to four types of L-alpha-amino acids (neutral with long side-chains, neutral with short side-chains, basic and acidic), known biologically relevant odorants for teleosts, was determined for 217 spontaneously active forebrain (FB) neurons in the channel catfish. Group I FB units were identified that were excited by only one of four types of amino acids; no Group I unit was encountered that was excited by an acidic amino acid. The Group I FB units exhibited similar preferences as described previously for OB neurons, suggesting that no major modifications of olfactory information for at least some of these units occurred between the OB and FB. Evidence, however, for the convergence of odor information between the OB and FB was suggested by Group II FB units that exhibited a broader excitatory molecular receptive range (EMRR) than those of previously recorded types of OB units or the Group I FB units. Group II FB units were excited by both neutral and basic amino acids and a few also by acidic amino acids, EMRRs not observed previously in OB units. Stimulus-induced inhibition, likely for contrast enhancement, was also often observed for the many of the FB units encountered. The observed EMRRs of the FB units presently identified and those of the OB units previously studied are consistent with the ability of catfish to behaviorally discriminate these compounds.

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Journal of neurophysiology

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