Neuronal filtering of multiplexed odour representations
Neuronal activity patterns contain information in their temporal structure, indicating that information transfer between neurons may be optimized by temporal filtering. In the zebrafish olfactory bulb, subsets of output neurons (mitral cells) engage in synchronized oscillations during odour responses, but information about odour identity is contained mostly in non-oscillatory firing rate patterns. Using optogenetic manipulations and odour stimulation, we found that firing rate responses of neurons in the posterior zone of the dorsal telencephalon (Dp), a target area homologous to olfactory cortex, were largely insensitive to oscillatory synchrony of mitral cells because passive membrane properties and synaptic currents act as low-pass filters. Nevertheless, synchrony influenced spike timing. Moreover, Dp neurons responded primarily during the decorrelated steady state of mitral cell activity patterns. Temporal filtering therefore tunes Dp neurons to components of mitral cell activity patterns that are particularly informative about precise odour identity. These results demonstrate how temporal filtering can extract specific information from multiplexed neuronal codes.