puc-header

Associative Learning Via the Vomeronasal System

26 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2018 Sneak Peek Status: Review Complete

See all articles by Karen Marom

Karen Marom

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada

Noa Horesh

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada

Asmahan Abu-Snieneh

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada

Amnon Dafni

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada

Rachel Paul

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada

Yoram Ben-Shaul

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada

More...

Abstract

Behavioral and physiological responses can be broadly classified as innate or learned. The former are most appropriate in critical and predictable contexts when particular stimuli require a clear and often automatic response. The latter are required in novel situations in which proper mapping between stimuli and responses must be learned through association. In many cases, distinct neuronal pathways mediate these two types of responses, even within a given sensory modality and even for a given stimulus. Many animals heavily rely on their chemical senses to guide both innate and learned behaviors, and in most mammals, multiple olfactory subsystems are used to accomplish this. The two most prominent sub-systems are the main olfactory system (MOS) and the vomeronasal system (VNS). A common view holds that the MOS is a generalist system with advanced associative capabilities, while the VNS is dedicated to mediating innate responses to a confined set of well-defined sensory cues. Although particular hardwired VNS-mediated behaviors can show flexibility in the strength of coupling between stimulus and response, it remains unknown whether the VNS can map arbitrary cues into entirely new behavioral outputs. Indeed, the designation of the VNS as a pheromone processing system suggests that responses mediated by this system will be hardwired, stereotyped, and even involuntary. The goal of the present study was to experimentally challenge this notion by testing the capacity of the VNS to support associative learning. Using various strategies for selective optogenetic activation of vomeronasal pathways, we show that mice can exploit VNS activity to form novel behavioral associations. These findings call for a revised view of the VNS as a hardwired system, and suggest that it has a significant capacity for associative learning.

Suggested Citation

Marom, Karen and Horesh, Noa and Abu-Snieneh, Asmahan and Dafni, Amnon and Paul, Rachel and Ben-Shaul, Yoram, Associative Learning Via the Vomeronasal System (2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3215354 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3215354
This is a paper under consideration at Cell Press and has not been peer-reviewed.

Karen Marom

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905
Israel

Noa Horesh

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905
Israel

Asmahan Abu-Snieneh

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905
Israel

Amnon Dafni

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905
Israel

Rachel Paul

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905
Israel

Yoram Ben-Shaul (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905
Israel

Click here to go to Cell.com

Go to Cell.com

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
198
Downloads
8