June 2010

Document Type


Degree Name



Oregon Health & Science University


There are three phylogenetic classes of cerebral cortex: archicortex (or hippocampus); neocortex (e.g. somatosensory and prefrontal cortex); and paleocortex, the cortex of the olfactory system. While archicortex and neocortex are among the most extensively studied brain regions, paleocortex has received comparatively little attention, particularly in the last two decades. As a result, physiological properties that are consider basic knowledge in other brain areas, such as distinguishing characterisitics of subregions and cell types, remain unknown in paleocortex. Interesting in its own right, paleocortex is also the evolutionary progenitor of neocortex. Therefore, insights into paleocortex have broad implications for cortical processing in general. Paleocortex has the technical advantages of its relatively simple layering and the compactness of the olfactory system. In this dissertation, I have sought to determine some of the basic physiological properties of the paleocortex, using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings in brain slices of juvenile mice. In Chapter 1, I developed a slice preparation containing several subregions of paleocortex, and used paired recordings to look at excitatory interactions across subregions. One subregion, the anterior olfactory cortex (AOC), had previously not been explored with whole-cell recording methods, so in Chapter 2, I characterized the intrinsic membrane and synaptic properties of pyramidal neurons in AOC. In chapter 3, I began to address the issue of cell types by characterizing the expression of 8 transgenic or knockin mouse lines. It is my hope that this dissertation will provide a foundation of tools and knowledge for further study of the paleocortex, as well as a few insights into its function.




Neuroscience Graduate Program


School of Medicine



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