Nawrot MP, Krofczik S, Farkhooi F, Menzel R (2010) Temporal dynamics of odor processing in the insect antennal lobe. (submitted)
Insects identify and evaluate behaviorally relevant odorants in complex natural scenes where odor concentrations and mixture composition can change rapidly. In the honeybee, a combinatorial code of activated and inactivated projection neurons (PNs) develops rapidly within tens of milliseconds at the first level of neural integration, the antennal lobe (AL). The stimulus-response dynamics of single neurons is faithfully captured by two alternative models which rely either on short-term synaptic depression, or on spike frequency adaptation. Both mechanisms work independently of lateral inhibition. Short response latencies in local interneurons indicate that local processing within the AL network relies on fast lateral inhibition that can suppress effectively and specifically odor responses in single PNs. Reviewing recent findings obtained in different insect species, we conclude that the insect olfactory system implements a fast and reliable coding scheme optimized for time-varying input within the behaviorally relevant dynamic range.