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Is adult neurogenesis essential for olfaction?

Françoise Lazarini 1 Pierre-Marie Lledo 1, *
* Corresponding author
Abstract : In mammals, new neurons are recruited into restricted brain areas throughout life. Adult-born neurons produced in the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricle migrate rostrally towards the olfactory bulb. Although thousands of neurons reach this central structure every day, the functional impact of their integration into mature circuits remains a matter of debate. Recent investigations have revealed no striking sensory deficits per se when adult bulbar neurogenesis is challenged. However , some cognitive functions, such as perceptual learning and olfactory memory, are clearly impaired. In this review we highlight the role of network activity in shaping ongoing neurogenesis and, in turn, how the integration of adult-born neurons refines pre-existing network function, and consequently olfactory behavior. Introduction New neurons are continuously generated in two discrete areas of the adult brain: the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricles and the subgranular zone of the hippocampus [1]. The latter gives rise to new granule neurons, which mature locally in the dentate gyrus, whereas the former produces neuroblasts that migrate along the rostral migratory stream (RMS) en route to the olfactory bulb (OB), the first olfactory relay in the CNS. Neural progenitors finish rostral migration in the core of the OB where they begin radial migration and mature into inter-neurons [2]. Despite extensive cellular characterization of individual adult-born neurons, the impact of adult neuro-genesis on OB circuit function and olfactory behavior is still unclear. It has been argued that ongoing adult neu-rogenesis is essential for structural maintenance of the OB circuit because blocking adult neurogenesis depletes the bulb of interneurons [3]. This review focuses on new insights indicating that the function of adult bulbar neu-rogenesis goes beyond the mere maintenance of neuronal circuits. In particular, we detail the functional characteristics of new neurons and how they shape mitral cell function and olfactory behavior. Functions for old and new neurons In rodents, olfaction is a key chemosensory modality that enables diverse essential functions such as food selection, danger detection and conspecific interactions. To fulfill this repertoire of functions the olfactory system has to detect and discriminate between odorants from a rich and varied olfactory environment, and then preserve this information
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Françoise Lazarini, Pierre-Marie Lledo. Is adult neurogenesis essential for olfaction?. Trends in Neurosciences, Elsevier, 2011, ⟨10.1016/j.tins.2010.09.006⟩. ⟨pasteur-01300437⟩

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