Olfactory bulb is the part of the CNS where the first stage of olfactory processing occurs. The input signal is provided by olfactory receptor neurons synapsing on principal mitral/tufted neurons of the bulb and on local interneurons. In rodents, olfactory bulb interneurons amount to 1.3 millions of cells thus representing one of the largest cellular populations in the mammalian brain. Interestingly, these interneurons undergo turnover throughout the entire life of the animal. Their precursors are generated in the lateral walls of the forebrain lateral ventricles, the richest source of adult stem cells within the brain. A large fraction of these adult-born cells are dopaminergic and as such they represent a potential therapeutic target for Parkinson’s disease.
By combining electrophysiological, optical and molecular-biological techniques we aim at understanding in vivo functional properties of local interneurons and their role for processing sensory information in the olfactory bulb (see: In vivo functional properties of juxtaglomerular neurons in the mouse olfactory bulb).