Pheromone-evoked potentials and oscillations in the antennal lobes of the sphinx moth Manduca sexta

T. Heinbockel, P. Kloppenburg, J. G. Hildebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Using intra- and extracellular recording methods, we studied the activity of pheromone-responsive projection neurons in the antennal lobe of the moth Manduca sexta. Intracellularly recorded responses of neurons to antennal stimulation with the pheromone blend characteristically included both inhibitory and excitatory stages of various strengths. To observe the activity of larger groups of neurons, we recorded responses extracellularly in the macroglomerular complex of the antennal lobe. The macroglomerular complex is part of a specialized olfactory subsystem and the site of first-order central processing of sex-pheromonal information. Odors such as the pheromone blend and host-plant (tobacco) volatiles gave rise to evoked potentials that were reproducible upon repeated antennal stimulation. Evoked potentials showed overriding high-frequency oscillations when the antenna was stimulated with the pheromone blend or with either one of the two key pheromone components. The frequency of the oscillations was in the range of 30-50 Hz. Amplitude and frequency of the oscillations varied during the response to pheromonal stimulation. Recording intracellular and extracellular activity simultaneously revealed phase-locking of action potentials to potential oscillations. The results suggest that the activity of neurons of the macroglomerular complex was temporally synchronized, potentially to strengthen the pheromone signal and to improve olfactory perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-714
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology - A Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1998


  • Evoked potential
  • Glomerulus
  • Olfaction
  • Oscillation
  • Pheromone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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