Coordinated electrical activity in the olfactory bulb gates the oscillatory entrainment of entorhinal networks in neonatal mice

by Sabine Gretenkord, Johanna K. Kostka, Henrike Hartung, Katja Watznauer, David Fleck, Angélica Minier-Toribio, Marc Spehr, Ileana L. Hanganu-Opatz

Although the developmental principles of sensory and cognitive processing have been extensively investigated, their synergy has been largely neglected. During early life, most sensory systems are still largely immature. As a notable exception, the olfactory system is functional at birth, controlling mother–offspring interactions and neonatal survival. Here, we elucidate the structural and functional principles underlying the communication between olfactory bulb (OB) and lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC)—the gatekeeper of limbic circuitry—during neonatal development. Combining optogenetics, pharmacology, and electrophysiology in vivo with axonal tracing, we show that mitral cell–dependent discontinuous theta bursts in OB drive network oscillations and time the firing in LEC of anesthetized mice via axonal projections confined to upper cortical layers. Acute pharmacological silencing of OB activity diminishes entorhinal oscillations, whereas odor exposure boosts OB–entorhinal coupling at fast frequencies. Chronic impairment of olfactory sensory neurons disrupts OB–entorhinal activity. Thus, OB activity shapes the maturation of entorhinal circuits.

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