Odour representations in insects undergo progressive transformations and decorrelation1,2,3 from the receptor array to the presumed site of odour learning, the mushroom body4,5,6,7. There, odours are represented by sparse assemblies of Kenyon cells in a large population2. Using intracellular recordings in vivo, we examined transmission and plasticity at the synapse made by Kenyon cells onto downstream targets in locusts. We find that these individual synapses are excitatory and undergo hebbian spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP)8,9,10 on a ±25 ms timescale. When placed in the context of odour-evoked Kenyon cell activity (a 20-Hz oscillatory population discharge), this form of STDP enhances the synchronization of the Kenyon cells’ targets and thus helps preserve the propagation of the odour-specific codes through the olfactory system.
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This work was supported by an NIH training grant, grants from the NIDCD, and the Lawrence Hanson Fund. We thank E. Schuman, I. Fiete, M. Murthy, M. Papadopoulou, O. Mazor, V. Jayaraman and the reviewers for their helpful comments.
Reprints and permissions information is available at www.nature.com/reprints. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Cassenaer, S., Laurent, G. Hebbian STDP in mushroom bodies facilitates the synchronous flow of olfactory information in locusts. Nature 448, 709–713 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05973
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