Developmental change in the access to olfactory memories.
Memory for a learned odor preference can be functionally confined to one side of the brain in 6-day-old rat pups by preferentially stimulating a single naris and corresponding olfactory bulb during training. We report here that this form of unilateral learning is present only during the first postnatal week; older pups show bilateral recall of unilateral olfactory experience. The maturation of bilateral learning probably depends on the postnatal growth and development of olfactory commissural fibers, because infantlike unilateral learning and memory is reinstated when these commissural fibers are sectioned before training in older pups. Section of commissural fibers after training also resulted in unilateral preferences. This latter finding indicates that the learned odor preference of older pups tested with the untrained naris open depends on access to unilaterally stored memories on the contralateral side, access provided by the newly developed commissural projections.
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