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Maintaining accuracy at the expense of speed: stimulus similarity defines odor discrimination time in mice.

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Abraham,  Nixon M.
Department of Cell Physiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Spors,  Hartwig
Department of Cell Physiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Carleton,  Alan
Department of Cell Physiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Margrie,  Troy W.
Department of Cell Physiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;
Department of Molecular Neurobiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Kuner,  Thomas
Department of Molecular Neurobiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;
Department of Cell Physiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Schaefer,  Andreas T.
Department of Cell Physiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Abraham, N. M., Spors, H., Carleton, A., Margrie, T. W., Kuner, T., & Schaefer, A. T. (2004). Maintaining accuracy at the expense of speed: stimulus similarity defines odor discrimination time in mice. Neuron, 44(5), 865-876. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2004.11.017.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-14B2-E
Abstract
Odor discrimination times and their dependence on stimulus similarity were evaluated to test temporal and spatial models of odor representation in mice. In a go/no-go operant conditioning paradigm, discrimination accuracy and time were determined for simple monomolecular odors and binary mixtures of odors. Mice discriminated simple odors with an accuracy exceeding 95%. Binary mixtures evoking highly overlapping spatiotemporal patterns of activity in the olfactory bulb were discriminated equally well. However, while discriminating simple odors in less than 200 ms, mice required 70-100 ms more time to discriminate highly similar binary mixtures. We conclude that odor discrimination in mice is fast and stimulus dependent. Thus, the underlying neuronal mechanisms act on a fast timescale, requiring only a brief epoch of odor-specific spatiotemporal representations to achieve rapid discrimination of dissimilar odors. The fine discrimination of highly similar stimuli, however, requires temporal integration of activity, suggesting a tradeoff between accuracy and speed.