Gamma and beta oscillations define a sequence of neurocognitive modes present in odor processing

Article Info

Frederick, D.E., Brown, A., Brim, E., Mehta, N., Vujovic, M., & Kay, L.M. (2016). Gamma and beta oscillations define a sequence of neurocognitive modes present in odor processingJournal of Neuroscience, 36(29), 7750-67. doi: 10.1523/jneurosci.0569-16.2016. PubMed PMID: 27445151. PMCID: PMC4951578.


Olfactory system beta (15–35 Hz) and gamma (40–110 Hz) oscillations of the local field potential in mammals have both been linked to odor learning and discrimination. Gamma oscillations represent the activity of a local network within the olfactory bulb, and beta oscillations represent engagement of a systemwide network. Here, we test whether beta and gamma oscillations represent different cognitive modes using the different demands of go/no-go and two-alternative choice tasks that previously were suggested to favor beta or gamma oscillations, respectively. We reconcile previous studies and show that both beta and gamma oscillations occur in both tasks, with gamma dominating the early odor sampling period (2–4 sniffs) and beta dominating later. The relative power and coherence of both oscillations depend separately on multiple factors within both tasks without categorical differences across tasks. While the early/gamma-associated period occurs in all trials, rats can perform above chance without the later/beta-associated period. Longer sampling, which includes beta oscillations, is associated with better performance. Gamma followed by beta oscillations therefore represents a sequence of cognitive and neural states during odor discrimination, which can be separately modified depending on the demands of a task and odor discrimination. Additionally, fast (85 Hz) and slow (70 Hz) olfactory bulb gamma oscillation sub-bands have been hypothesized to represent tufted and mitral cell networks, respectively (Manabe and Mori, 2013). We find that fast gamma favors the early and slow gamma the later (beta-dominated) odor-sampling period and that the relative contributions of these oscillations are consistent across tasks.