The mammalian olfactory system is well established for its remarkable capability of undergoing experience-dependent plasticity. Although this process involves changes at multiple stages throughout the central olfactory pathway, even the early stages of processing, such as the olfactory bulb and piriform cortex, can display a high degree of plasticity. As in other sensory systems, this plasticity can be controlled by centrifugal inputs from brain regions known to be involved in attention and learning processes. Specifically, both the bulb and cortex receive heavy inputs from cholinergic, noradrenergic, and serotonergic modulatory systems. These neuromodulators are shown to have profound effects on both odor processing and odor memory by acting on both inhibitory local interneurons and output neurons in both regions.
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