Decoding temporal information through slow lateral excitation in the olfactory system of insects

Comments: 12 pages, 6 figures


Sensory information is represented in a spatio-temporal code in the antennal lobe, the first processing stage of the olfactory system of insects. We propose a novel mechanism for decoding this information in the next processing stage, the mushroom body. The Kenyon cells in the mushroom body of insects exhibit lateral excitatory connections at their axons. We demonstrate that slow lateral excitation between Kenyon cells allows one to decode sequences of activity in the antennal lobe. We are thus able to clarify the role of the existing connections as well as to demonstrate a novel mechanism for decoding temporal information in neuronal systems. This mechanism complements the variety of existing temporal decoding schemes. It seems that neuronal systems not only have a rich variety of code types but also quite a diversity of algorithms for transforming different codes into each other.