Olfactory inputs activate the medial entorhinal cortex via the hippocampus

Gerardo Biella, Marco De Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The lateral and medial regions of the entorhinal cortex differ substantially in terms of connectivity and pattern of activation. With regard to olfactory input, a detailed and extensive physiological map of the olfactory projection to the entorhinal cortex is missing, even if anatomic studies suggest that the olfactory afferents are confined to the lateral and rostral entorhinal region. We studied the contribution of the medial and lateral entorhinal areas to olfactory processing by analyzing the responses induced by lateral olfactory tract stimulation in different entorhinal subfields of the in vitro isolated guinea pig brain. The pattern of synaptic activation of the medial and lateral entorhinal regions was reconstructed either by performing simultaneous multisite recordings or by applying current source density analysis on field potential laminar profiles obtained with 16- channel silicon probes. Current source density analysis demonstrated the existence of a direct monosynaptic olfactory input into the superficial 300 μm of the most rostral part of the lateral entorhinal cortex exclusively, whereas disynaptic sinks mediated by associative fibers arising from the piriform cortex were observed at 100-350 μm depth in the entire lateral aspect of the cortex. No local field responses were recorded in the medial entorhinal region unless a large population spike was generated in the hippocampus (dentate gyrus and CA1 region) by a stimulus 3-5 x the intensity necessary to obtain a maximal monosynaptic response in the piriform cortex. In these conditions, a late sink was recorded at a depth of 600-1000 μm in the medial entorhinal area (layers III-V) 10.6 ± 0.9 (SD) msec after a population spike was simultaneously recorded in CA1. Diffuse activation of the medial entorhinal region was also obtained by repetitive low-intensity stimulation of the lateral olfactory tract at 2-8 Hz. Higher or lower stimulation frequencies did not induce hippocampal-medial entorhinal cortex activation. These results suggest that the medial and the lateral entorhinal regions have substantially different roles in processing olfactory sensory inputs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1924-1931
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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