About this Research Topic
The retina and the olfactory bulb are key neural structures in sensory processing, specifically vision and olfaction. These structures have been adopted as models of neural networks with direct sensory input, projection neurons, and interneurons involved in lateral inhibition and other features of sensory processing.
The “outputs” of the sensory processing taking place in the retina and olfactory bulb are then projected to the cerebrum. Retina and olfactory bulb share some common features, in terms of underlying sensory processing networks and the mediating ion channels and receptors that drive these circuits.
This Research Topic aims to broaden our knowledge of, and highlight the common features characterizing sensory processing networks in vision and olfaction, as well as shedding light on the different anatomical and physiological aspects that separate them, rendering these structures unique.
It is important to address the different fashion by which the amplification of sensory signals is achieved through the different synaptic networks – given that thresholds and sensitivity to sensory stimuli differ between the retina and the olfactory bulb.
Both the retina and the olfactory bulb neural structures are characterized by excitatory glutamatergic synapses involved in feed forward sensory signaling from the sensory receptor cells to secondary neurons. Interneurons releasing inhibitory neurotransmitters, such as GABA or glycine, finely tune the feed forward signals or sharpen the signal-to-noise ratio in these signals by lateral inhibition.
The release of neuromodulators by interneurons and neuroendocrine pathways is essential for fine-tuning the sensitivity and activity of synapses in both the retina and olfactory bulb neural networks. The common and distinct aspects of these elements in both systems will be discussed as the neuromodulation process is fundamental to regulate sensitivity and activity of synapses.
Another important element of sensory processing concerns the localization of sensory stimuli. The latter is determined by the size and properties of the receptive fields of not only the sensory receptor cells but also of the neurons forming the underlying neural network. The receptive fields of neurons in the retina and olfactory bulb have been extensively studied and have been found to have certain common but also different features that need to be addressed.
Understanding the common features as well as the differences in sensory processing and coding in these two fundamental structures may provide new insights leading to a deeper understanding of the basic mechanisms in sensory perception.
We encourage contributors to submit Original Research or Review articles, contributing to broadening our knowledge and reporting on new findings aiming to:
1) Shed light on sensory processes in the retina or olfactory bulb that are unique or comparable in both structures;
2) Increase our understanding of the determination of sensory thresholds and amplification of sensory signals in the retina and/or the olfactory bulb;
3) Highlight common and distinct features of sensory discrimination and analysis by these neural networks and the role of neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, and neuroendocrine molecules in these processes;
4) Distinguish similar and unique recent approaches that have been used to explore the retina and the olfactory bulb including molecular, physiological, computational, and structural methods that have provided advances in our knowledge of sensory processing due to the highly laminar organization of these two brain regions.
Keywords: retina, olfactory bulb, sensory processing, synaptic, neural circuits
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