Nature 472: 213-16.
Sensory information is transmitted to the brain where it must be processed to translate stimulus features into appropriate behavioural output. In the olfactory system, distributed neural activity in the nose is converted into a segregated map in the olfactory bulb. Here we investigate how this ordered representation is transformed in higher olfactory centres in mice. We have developed a tracing strategy to define the neural circuits that convey information from individual glomeruli in the olfactory bulb to the piriform cortex and the cortical amygdala. The spatial order in the bulb is discarded in the piriform cortex; axons from individual glomeruli project diffusely to the piriform without apparent spatial preference. In the cortical amygdala, we observe broad patches of projections that are spatially stereotyped for individual glomeruli. These projections to the amygdala are overlapping and afford the opportunity for spatially localized integration of information from multiple glomeruli. The identification of a distributive pattern of projections to the piriform and stereotyped projections to the amygdala provides an anatomical context for the generation of learned and innate behaviours.