Selective loss of cholinergic neurons projecting to the olfactory system increases perceptual generalization between similar, but not dissimilar, odorants

Christiane Linster, Patricia A. Garcia, Michael E. Hasselmo, Mark G. Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The neuromodulator acetylcholine is thought to modulate information processing in the olfactory system. The authors used 192 IgG-saporin, a lesioning agent selective for basal forebrain cholinergic neurons, to determine whether selective lesions of cholinergic neurons projecting to the olfactory bulb and cortex affect odor perception in rats. Lesioned and sham-operated rats were tested in an olfactory generalization paradigm with sets of chemically related odorants (n-aliphatic aldehydes, acids, and alcohols). Lesioned rats generalized more between chemically similar odorants but did not differ from controls in their response to chemically unrelated odorants or in acquisition of the conditioned odor. Results show that cholinergic inputs to the olfactory system influence perceptual qualities of odorants and confirm predictions made by computational models of this system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)826-833
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology

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